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Challenge Issued to Idaho – Look it up in the Dictionary

May 27, 2008

Cheyenne, WY – Reading a book cover-to-cover doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, unless it's the dictionary. Studying the reference book is what some in the 50-plus set are doing as they get ready for "AARP The Magazine's National Spelling Bee," which is taking place this year in Cheyenne.

First-time competitor Pam Leininger from Colorado has issued a challenge to Idahoans to get involved--no one from the Gem State has signed up yet. She's taking the competition seriously, studying the dictionary for up to eight hours a day.

"I've always considered myself a really good speller. I didn't realize I wasn't as good as I thought I was until I started doing the dictionary. I'm finding so much there that fascinates me."

The spelling bee is open to anyone age 50 and older. More than $1,000 in prizes is up for grabs, and the winner will be flown to New York to appear on national television.

Steve Slon is the editor of AARP The Magazine. He says while many think the spelling bee is an inspiration to keep aging minds sharp, to him it's more an example of a lifetime of learning.

"This is not just seniors trying to master a few words to keep from forgetting things. This is the opposite, if anything: It's showing off the power of the older brain, the wiser brain."

"AARP The Magazine's National Spelling Bee" will be held on June 14 in Cheyenne, Wyo., and registration is open now. More information is available online at www.aarp.org.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - ID