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56-Year-Old North Dakota Native Wins AARP the Magazine's National Spelling Bee for ‘Word Nerds’ Age 50+

June 16, 2008

Contact: Michelle Alvarez, AARP, 202-434-2560, malvarez@aarp.org

AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with more than 34 million readers, today crowned Larry Grossman, age 56, of Northwood, N.D., the winner of AARP The Magazine’s National Spelling Bee for people age 50+. Grossman won the championship by correctly spelling DEBOUCH, which means to emerge.

Held on Saturday at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne, Wyo., 49 competitors ages 51 to 75 from 24 states competed in AARP The Magazine’s National Spelling Bee. Grossman walked away with $500 in prizes. Michael Petrina, Jr., from Arlington, Va., finished in second place ahead of Scott Firebaugh from Knoxville, Tenn., who finished third. A complete list of results can be found online along with video footage of the competition at www.aarp.org/spellingbee.

“We’re thrilled that so many people from across the country came out for this year’s competition and want to congratulate Larry for coming out ahead of the pack,” said Steve Slon, editor of AARP The Magazine. “Our Spelling Bee has continued to grow in popularity since it was introduced by AARP members 13 years ago and the cognitive and social benefits of exercising your mind as you age make all of today’s participants winners.”

In the AARP The Magazine-sponsored bee, the 50+ aged spellers were allowed to miss three words before being knocked out of the competition. The day began with a 100-word written competition, narrowing the field to the top 16, who went on to compete in the oral spelling finals.

AARP The Magazine’s National Spelling Bee, formerly the AARP National Senior Spelling Bee, was founded in 1996 by a group of Cheyenne AARP members who wanted to challenge the 50+ community to keep their minds sharp as they age. Over the years, it has grown into a highly competitive and challenging event attracting adult spellers from all over the country and Canada. It is open to anyone age 50 or older, except previous winners, and is supported by NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community and the Staying Sharp program.

“This year’s group of spellers were the most impressive I’ve seen,” said AARP Wyoming Director Rita Inoway. “It’s great to see so many people dedicated to keeping their minds sharp and taking on the challenge of participating in the bee.”

The final 16 competitors in this year’s competition finished in the following order:

1. Larry Grossman – Northwood, N.D. – Age 56

2. Michael Petrina, Jr. – Arlington, Va. – Age 63

3. Scott Firebaugh – Knoxville, Tenn. – Age 54

4. Norman Zucker – Sebastopol, Calif. – Age 61

5. Bill Long – Salem, Ore. – Age 56

6. Randy Hilfman – Woodinville, Wash. – Age 58

7. Jane Wiggs - Jacksonville, Florida - Age 62

8. Joan Saxton - Sausalito, Calif. - Age 66

8. Rodney Murray - Middletown, Del. - Age 54

9. Kent Stockton – Riverton, Wyo. – Age 66

9. Sandra Marvin – Englewood, Colo. – Age 60

9. Nancy Friedlander – San Diego, Calif. – Age 61

9. Marlene Harry – Brownsburg, Ind. – Age 56

9. Kate Karp – Long Beach, Calif. – Age 59

10. Tony Suschil – Hudson, Ohio – Age 63

10. Pam Leininger – Durango, Colo. – Age 61

About AARP The Magazine

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