Follow Up: Over $62,000 Raised for Nonprofit Read To Succeed

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Jolene Radnoti with winner Matthew Joseph

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee, Nov. 7, 2019 - After seventeen thrilling rounds of competition, Simply Pure Sweets Co-Owner, Matthew Joseph, claimed the title of 2019 Celebrity Bee Champion with the correct spelling of "clandestine."

Judy Goodwin, Principal at Barfield Elementary, came in second, but misspelled "chandeliers" by leaving off the "i". Rounding out the top, Matthew Stearns, CFO at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, and Don Bartch, Principal at Overall Creek Elementary, went word for word, but ultimately, both faced elimination in the tenth round.

Joseph wasn't the only winner of the night. Susan Grear, Owner of The Write Impression, was honored as the speller who raised the most money while Barbara Johnson, of Pinnacle Bank, was honored as the speller with the most donors.


The event featured a live auction conducted by Kristen, Gaylon, and Lewis Perry with desirable items like 50 yard line seats to the Tennessee Titans vs Kansas City Chiefs game and an official hockey stick signed by the entire 2019 Nashville Predators squad.

A silent auction filled with artwork created by local artists piqued the interest of local patrons. The revealing of the 2020 One Book, It's All Relative by A.J. Jacobs, completed the overall feeling of community that the night bolstered.


This engaging event was filled with laughter and tears as hundreds of supporters gathered in support of literacy. More than $62,000 was raised for Read To Succeed's annual 'fun-raising' event.

"This year's bee was a success," said Jolene Radnoti, Executive Director of Read To Succeed. "The communities support of the bee is overwhelming. We are truly grateful for all the folks who help us support our literacy mission."

Other spellers in order of elimination were Dennis Stallings, former NFL Player; Whitney Raque, Attorney at Henderson, Raque, and Cain Association of Attorneys; Lamar Dixon, Engineering Manager at Nissan; Susan Grear, Owner, The Write Impression; Becca George, Co-Owner, Modern Vintage Events; Thom Christy, WQJZ and Shacklett Photography; Bobby Johnson, Financial Specialist, Pinnacle Bank; and Zac Woodward, The Woody & Jim Show, 107.5 The River.

Janie Becker served as pronouncer, with Paige Hendrickson, Kris Wiese and Michelle Willard serving as judges.

Funds from the Bee stay 100 percent in Rutherford County and support Read To Succeed's adult tutoring program, youth and family literacy programs, ESL classes, and dozens of other events in the community aimed at promoting literacy.

The fundraising goal could not have been met without the support of valued community-minded businesses, individuals and foundations. These funds will support and help expand Read To Succeed's family and adult literacy programs for the next year, Radnoti said.

Sponsors were Nissan North American, Atmos Energy, Adams Family Foundation, Fred & Cindy Adams, Edward Jones, Jennings & Rebecca Jones Foundation, Ingram Content Group, Dr. James & Beverly Calder, Don & Melanie Clayton, Coggins Family Foundation, Murfreesboro Electric Department, Middle Tennessee Emergency Physicians, Yates Services, Andy Womack - State Farm, A Mortgage Boutique, U.S. Cold Storage, Simmons Bank, St. Thomas Rutherford, Rutherford Co. Farm Bureau, Murfreesboro Housing Authority, First Bank, Wilson Bank & Trust, Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, Volunteer State Bank, and Bridgestone LaVergne Plant.

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