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Fayette's Brain Games 2011 scheduled for Thursday

| Friday, April 8, 2011

Fayette County senior citizens who want to prove that "grey matters" won't want to miss Brain Games 2011, featuring the annual Fayette County Senior Spelling Bee.

The games will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Masontown Senior Center, 22 S. Main St.

The spelling bee began more than two decades ago at the Uniontown Senior Center, now renamed the Uniontown Adult Recreation Center and operated by Fayette County Community Action Agency Inc., according to Debbie Bricker, project manager for FCCAA's aging services.

"The event is very popular because the seniors are very competitive," Bricker said. "Seniors are very intelligent, and they like to test themselves. They do extremely well during the competition. It's amazing."

Last year, Bricker said 93-year-old Carol Myers, the oldest member at the Uniontown center, was the third runner-up in the spelling bee competition. The spelling bee went down to the wire with Patricia Barnhart of the Smithfield Senior Center taking first place and Karen Reckard, also of the Smithfield Senior Center, finishing in second place.

The Smithfield Senior Center couldn't be stopped last year as Smithfield Team Two walked away with first place in the Brain Games.

Evelyn Hovanec served as the spelling bee enunciator last year, and Carol Ashton and Maria Setock judged the competition.

"It's very competitive, and the seniors take a lot of pride in how they do," Bricker said.

All of the Fayette County senior centers are eligible to participate, Bricker said. They include Brownfield, Brownsville, Point Marion, Everson, Connellsville, Smithfield, Masontown, Uniontown, Bullskin Township, Fairchance, Republic and the Mountain Area Senior Citizens. A small site in Haydentown also was invited to participate.

Bricker said Joyce Miller, FCCAA's director of community service, and the late Faye Augustine started the spelling bee in 1990. Seven years later, Augustine added the Brain Games to the annual event.

In 1997, Gwendolyn Ridgley of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging took over the event.

Two years ago, Bricker said the event was opened up so it could be hosted by any senior center in Fayette County.

"Each site is given a spelling book so participants have an opportunity to study for the bee," she said. "We give them about six weeks to study."

Registration is due today to Masontown Senior Center, 23 S. Main St., Masontown. A $1 suggested donation for each team member for registration and a $1 donation for each spelling bee participant should accompany the registration form.

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