Don Clayton Wins Read To Succeed's Spelling Bee!

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The last two spellers standing were Don Clayton (left) and Dan Whittle (right). Then the crowd burst into applause as Clayton correctly spelled the winning word.

(Scroll Down for Pictures) The sixth annual Read To Succeed Spelling Bee was a huge success financially as well as being fun. The dinner and spelling bee began at 6:00 o'clock Tuesday night (11/13/2012) at the Patterson Community Center.

After eight rounds of tough competition, Ingram Book Group’s Vice President of Logistics Analysis Don Clayton claimed the title of 2012 Celebrity Bee Champion with the correct spelling of “extemporaneous” and “cholera.” The Murfreesboro Post’s Dan Whittle came in a close second, barely misspelling “mezzanine.”

When asked about his spelling ability, Clayton told WGNS News . . .  


Fun and Successful Night!


The Bee was filled with laughs and hundreds of Read To Succeed supporters rallying behind literacy. More than $58,600 was raised for Read To Succeed’s annual fundraiser, with more than $5,000 raised just during the last hours of the event. An audience member offered to donate more than $2,500 if the crowd could match the donation, which they quickly did.

Bee Sponsorship Co-Chair Shawn McFarland says that this Bee raised more money for Rutherford County’s literacy initiative than ever before. Funds from the Bee stay 100% in Rutherford County and support Read To Succeed’s adult tutoring program, in-school family literacy programs, ESL classes, and dozens of other events in the community aimed at promoting reading.

“This was Read to Succeeds primary fundraising opportunity for the year,” McFarland says. “With these funds, we can truly change someone’s life by giving the best tool one can have: the ability to read. Our sponsors recognize that RTS is making a difference in the lives of Rutherford County citizens and for that we are extremely grateful.”

Patrons were giving Shawn checks and cash as they left the auditorium. 

They all knew the importance of Read To Succeed's mission of help adults be listerate. Data shows that 44 per cent of this area's adults read at the fourth grade level and one per cent read below the first grade level.

(Left photo, L-R) Don Clayton holds the winning trophy, while Read To Succeed's Executive Director Lisa Mitchell thanks the celebrity spellers for their participation and to the audience and sponsors for their support.  

Mitchell noted that giving an adult the knowledge to read dramatically improves their self image while allowing them to read books to their children and grandchildren, read the Bible, know what signs say and more. 

Thank You Spellers

The celebrity spellers included: Susan Brennan (Nissan North America, Inc.), Leanne Duffey (Southern Veterinary Center), Dean Hayes (MTSU Head Track & Field Coach), Dr. Mary Moss (Women's Health Specialists), Tina Patel (Merck), Cynthia Strobufrg (Stonecrest Hospital), Tom Vance (First National Bank of McMinnville), Jewel Tankard (Destiny Center Church), Jennifer Polk Whitlow (John Pittard Elementary), Don Clayton (Ingram Books), Dr. Dunk Eastham (Tennessee Pediatrics), Mitchell Mote (UT Agricultural Extension Service), Whit Turnbvow (MTSU Head Golf Coach), and Dan Whittle (Murfreesboro Post).  

WGNS’ Bart Walker was the pronouncer, with Diane Mackey, Gloria LaRoche, and John Rodgers judging.

Thank You Sponsors

Local law firm Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder and Kious, PLLC and Nissan North America, Inc. each donated $5,000 to the Celebrity Bee, funds that will support and help expand Read To Succeed’s family and adult literacy programs for the next year.

Donors at the $2,500 level include the Adams-Coggin Family Foundation, AT&T, Jennings & Rebecca Jones Foundation, Adams Family Foundation, Lamar Advertising, and Steve and Lara Daniels.
$1,000 and under donors include Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund, Andy Womack (State Farm), Middle Tennessee Medical Center, the Daily News Journal /Gannett Foundation, State Farm, TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, Colonial Pipeline, MidSouth Bank, Health Services Management, Inc., Dr. Liz Rhea, Ingram Content Group and Joe and Judy Powell.

$500 donors include Drew Mitchell, Mr. and Mrs. Hubert McCullough, the LaRoche Family Foundation, Ernest and Peggy Burgess, The Rogers Group, Andrew and Lisa Mitchell, Demos’ Restaurant, Brian and Kirsten Coleman, Bud’s Tire Pros, Financial Services and Solutions, Inc, John Barton, Jr. and the First National Bank of McMinnville.

$250 donors include WGNS Radio, Utpal and Tina Patel, Britt and Jan Mioton, A Renovation LLC, Smyrna Rotary Club, LaVergne Rotary Club, Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club, Noon Rotary Club, Edward and Victoria Jo Eastham, Mid-State Surgery - Leslie & Mark Akins, Joachim and Emily Zietz, Dempsey Vantrease & Follis PLLC, Ivan and Nancy Duggin, James Beach and Shervondalonn Brown, Middle TN Emergency Physicians, Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, Inside Sports—Jeff Jordan, Beverley Hamblin, Joe and Ronni Shaw, Bill and Rita Shacklett, Shawn and Bette McFarland, Reeves-Sain Family Medical Services, Rick and Charlotte Swafford, Pat McHale, Chantho and Bounnheng Sourinho, Wild About Smiles –Pediatric Dentistry, and John Murray and Elizabeth LaRoche.

In-kind donors include Bonefish Grill, which donated an “Excursion” meal for the winner of the Bee, Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department,The Murfreesboro Post, Murfreesboro Magazine, Middle Tennessee Medical Center, Shacklett’s Photography, and Linebaugh Library.

And it’s not too late to make a donation: $5, $10, $20 or any amount supports Read To Succeed’s programs any time of the year.

For more information on the Celebrity Spelling Bee and Read To Succeed, visit or call 615-738-7323.

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