"For 13 years, we did a spring expo, but it ran its course," said Hannah Cramer, deputy director of the local commission and chairwoman for the spelling bee. "So we began looking for a signature fundraiser, kicked some ideas around and decided on this."
With a $250 team registration fee and sponsorships from area businesses, Cramer said organizers had set a goal of raising $10,000 from the event.
"But we're not going to reach that," she said. "Instead, we'll clear about $3,000 - and, for our first year, I think that's pretty good."
The money will be put to good use, Cramer said. Last year, 36,500 meals were delivered to area senior citizens through Meals on Wheels, a commission-sponsored program.
Meals on Wheels enables ill or confined seniors to maintain good health, and allows them to live independently for as long as possible, she said.
A secondary benefit of the program is that seniors receive visitors who check on their well-being, Cramer said. If something looks out of order, the volunteer or staff person who delivers the meals can report back to the commission for a follow-up.
While the spelling bee was for a good cause, Cramer said she also hoped it would bring people together to have fun.
"If you've seen spelling bees on TV, forget it," she said. "This is about having an enjoyable time with no stress or embarrassment."
As each word was called out by pronouncer Kathy Thornhill, each team huddled, then wrote the word on a dry-erase board. The spelling then was checked by the judges.
As teams were eliminated, it came down to three teams that battled for the crown.
Placing second in the competition were Joan Erdesky, Rose Wolters and Ladetra Robinson of the Washington County Commission for Women. Taking third place were Becky Cline, Jesse Crabtree and Michele Crabtree of Forever Gifts Times Three.
Winners received gift baskets donated by area businesses.
As this year's champions, Haught, Lesher and Renner said they definitely will return for next year's competition.
"It was a lot of fun," Renner said. "We were confident we could win. Now, we have to come back and do it again."