By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Each fall the Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition (OKCMLC) holds its annual fundraiser, the Scrabble Showdown. On Thursday, October 1, the tournament was held at Castle Falls Event Center, 820 N. MacArthur Blvd., in Oklahoma City.
Presented by Irish Realty and Main Street Parking, the fundraiser is designed to raise awareness of the Coalition and the importance of literacy service in the community.
Proceeds benefit the Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition, which provides tutor support, awards GED testing fee scholarships, sponsors D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read Day) at the state capitol, hosts opportunities for professional development and collaboration within the literacy community, and connects learners and volunteers to literacy services.
“This is a one of a kind fundraiser designed by a group from Leadership OKC LOYAL Class of 2009-2010,” said OKC Metro Literacy Coalition Board Chair, Bevan Graybill. “The OKC Metro Literacy Coalition’s board members, staff, and volunteers have carried on the tradition for six years.”
This year, there were two divisions. In the Recreational/Amateur Tournament, participants play in teams of two. Three full rounds were offered guaranteeing an entire evening of play.
Prizes were awarded to the top two teams.
The second division, the Club/Professional Tournament was a more difficult one-on-one competition. Three full rounds were guaranteed.
“In recent years, interest from the local Scrabble Club has increased, so we added a one-on-one tournament to accommodate those folks. But, you certainly don’t have to be a Scrabble whiz to have fun at this event.
Graybill said. “For a price, players randomly drew extra Scrabble tiles, used a cheat sheet, bougjt a Double Word Score, and even got a live play suggestion from the officiator or Club Tournament players.”
An extensive silent auction and raffles were held throughout the evening.
Local attorney, Susan Beaty, has played in the Scrabble Showdown for three years.
“It’s a fun evening doing something out of the ordinary,” Beaty said. “Playing three rounds, you get to meet new people. Plus, you’re giving back to the community and doing something to build literacy in Oklahoma City.”
News 9’s Alex Cameron was tthe emcee for the event.
This year Marcos Stucco, a 2014 Scrabble Showdown Champion officiated the tournament.
“The Scrabble tournament fundraiser is closely tied to the OKC Metro Literacy Coalition’s mission of promoting literacy and connecting people to services,” Graybill added. “A cocktail party, 5k, or golf tournament wouldn’t provide that connection to literacy. Most of us take for granted the ability to read and write–and even play board games.”
“The Coalition convenes organizations and individuals who are providing direct services to learners,” Graybill continued. “This year we are focusing on English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.
“Oklahoma City University’s M.A. program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Oklahoma Christian University’s B.A. program in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), and ESL providers around the metro are currently working together to create a centralized ESL training program for volunteers and researching the best methods for assessing the progress of ESL students and evaluating the impact ESL providers are having in Oklahoma City,” Graybill said.
The Scrabble Showdown also celebrated the work of its members: Community Literacy Centers, Opportunities Industrialization of Oklahoma County, Payne Education Center, Rainbow Fleet Child Care Resource and Referral, Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and Smart Start Central Oklahoma (Early Birds).
Past donations of goods and services included assorted gift baskets, books (adult and children), e-readers, games & toys, event tickets, gift certificates for restaurants, theaters and other retailers/services.
For more information, call 405-830-2790 or visit www.okcliteracycoalition.org.