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Adults Face Off In Long-Running SoCal Spelling Competition

LONG BEACH (KPIX) -- While most spelling competitions are for children, KPIX 5 recently checked out a contest held in Southern California where adults face off to prove their spelling prowess.

More than two dozen people compete in the National Adult Spelling Bee in Long Beach.

Publicist and event planner Justin Rudd has organized it for the last 13 years at his church, Bay Shore Congregational.

"I think it's important for everyone to spell correctly as best as they can," Rudd said.

The spelling bee's pronouncer Kate Karp agreed; the skill is important in this age of spell-check.

"If you send out a letter to someone looking for a job, you're going to be dinged on that," Karp said.

Karp herself won Justin's first National Adult Spelling Bee.

"I love to spell. I always have. It scratches an itch," said Karp.

That's why participants aged 14 and older come to compete. The grand prize is $1,000 in cash. $500 for the individual and another $500 goes to the winner's charity of choice.

The annual event draws spellers from all across California and the U.S. Former teacher Bernetta Gresko of Long Beach competes every year and won in 2014.

She studies her trusty notebook.

"In my teaching years, I used to set up the spelling bees. So I figure I owe it to the kids to be on the other side of the microphone now," laughed Gresko.

Dr. Chitra Venkatasubramanian of Sunnyvale decided to enter after her son won the first place ribbon in the children's bee that was held earlier in the afternoon.

"I'd been watching these kids on stage, so I thought I'd give it a shot," she said.

Her son, Vayun Krishnar, who is also competing in the CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee, enjoyed the role reversal.

"Feel excited for her 'cause it's her first bee," he smiled.

But he did not want her to get eliminated on the first round.

"Yeah, 'cause that'd be really weird if she got out in the first round," he said.

Happily, she lasted well past the first round.

In the end, contestants had fun and even learned how to spell a little better.

There is an entry fee charged for participation ranging from $10 to $30, depending on when the contestant registers.

The funds go toward Rudd's nonprofit, Community Action Team. The group organizes events ranging from beach clean ups to clothing giveaways for those in need.

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