Adult spelling bee supports Rape and Abuse Crisis Center

BY Tomi Thompson

Sweaty palms, silent letters, and missed vowels were all staples at a spelling bee in downtown Fargo Saturday night.

But this wasn’t any regular spelling bee.

The Adult Spelling Bee hosted at the Beefsteak Club in downtown Fargo was a fundraising event for the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead.

The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead is a non-profit agency that provides crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling, and prevention education services for domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse. All of their free and confidential services are offered to women, men, children, adolescents, and older adults who have been victims of or have been affected by personal violence.

Thirty contestants all paid a $10 entry fee, which was donated to the RACC, to sign up for the event. Free will donations along with item donations for the RACC were also accepted at the event. Participants were competing for a $200 Beefsteak gift card and first, second and third place trophies.

Jack Sunday of KFGO was the word master at the spelling bee.  Spellers dropped quickly in the first few rounds, but the final spell-off between the top two contestants lasted almost 45 minutes. The spelling bee concluded with Michelle Pearson of Fargo correctly spelling “hemorrhage” and “carafe.”

Award-winning local comedian Erik Block, trivia host at the Beefsteak, along with Beefsteak Club owner and executive chef Scott Motschenbacher came up with the idea to host an Adult Spelling Bee after seeing their popularity rising in bigger cities. After coming up with the idea, it was decided that the event would benefit a local charity.

According to Block, the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center was an easy choice.

“That was the first one that we came up with and we all kind of agreed that that was a great one to support,” said Block. “They’re just a charity that I’ve always liked to support and I’ve always believed in.”

The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s executive director Dr. Christopher Johnson thanked the crowd for their participation, and was grateful the RACC got to be the beneficiary of this event.

“Scott and Eric from the Beefsteak Club reached out and said that would like to do this, and we were thrilled,” said Johnson. “When organizations such as this reach out and say ‘We want to hold this event and we want the proceeds to go to you,’ it sends a strong message.”

Johnson said the event demonstrated a commitment from the community to support the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s mission, and being able to partner with the Beefsteak allowed them to produce something really exciting.

Johnson, an MSUM alumnus, said the culture and the philosophy at MSUM has always been very in line with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s mission of assisting those who are victims of personal violence.

“I just really appreciate the process and stance that MSUM takes towards sexual assault and dating violence,” said Johnson, “I think that MSUM has done a really good job about having open discussions about that.”

Johnson said that students need to be knowledgeable and active about dating and sexual violence.

“They’re on the right track if you know whats going on and you take a stand,” said Johnson.

The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center is also a member of the task force against sexual violence that was assembled by President Ann Blackhurst this fall.

Ben Stechmann, a participant in the event, said the fact that the spelling bee was raising money for the RACC was one of the reasons he decided to compete.

“The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center has been something that I have believed in 100 percent and wholeheartedly,” said Stechmann, “As a victim of childhood abuse and having a family member that was a victim of domestic violence, for people to have something that they can reach out to, and a resource that can improve their lives, I wanted to be able to show my support and give back.”

This spelling bee proved to be about much more than spelling, raising over $500 for the RACC. Block said the Beefsteak intends to continue hosting Adult Spelling Bee events.

The RACC is always accepting personal care items, items for office use, cell phones, and cash donations along with volunteer opportunities. If you are or know anyone that has been affected by personal violence, contact the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center at (701) 293-7273.

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