What do a Ridgefield High School student, a social media consultant, an orthopedic surgeon, a comedian, and a police officer have in common? No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke. It’s a list of just some of the contestants vying for bragging rights in RVNA’s seventh annual Spelling Bee.

The event, scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m., at the Ridgefield Playhouse, brings together members of the community for a fun evening of friendly competition to benefit a great cause – RVNA Nursing Education.  

Think of it as the traditional Scripps National Spelling Bee meets “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” In a fun twist on official spelling bee rules, contestants are allowed a “lifeline” in the audience to help them out with difficult words. If eliminated, they can “buy” themselves back into the competition for a donation. Audience members can also donate to get their favorite contestant back in the mix.

Judges for this year’s fundraiser are: Geoffrey Morris, editor-in-chief and publisher of TownVibe Media publications, including Ridgefield Magazine; Dean Miller, chair of the boards of Meals on Wheels of Ridgefield and the Ridgefield Library; and Vicki Mueller, retirement strategist at Charter Research & Investment Group, and chair of the board of RVNA.  

Contestants from the community are:

  • John Apinis, RN, BSN, RVNA Director of Nursing Services
  • Chris Augustine, Ridgefield Fire Department
  • Deirdre Basile, Ph.D., Ridgefield Council of PTAs
  • Lyndsay Clark, Kickfit CT
  • John Dunleavy, M.D., OrthoConnecticut
  • Kate Fitzpatrick, Kate Fitzpatrick Consulting
  • Carol Gardell, Ridgefield Thrift Shop
  • Amy Piantaggini, Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
  • Steve Scalzo, Ridgefield Little League
  • Matt Stamatis, Ridgefield High School student
  • Kate Tinsley, Ridgefield police officer
  • Tim Washer, comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” writer
  • Jonathan Winn, Thrown Stone Theater Company

This year’s Bee sponsors include: AR Kids; Audrey Road; BMW of Ridgefield; Dr. Blaine Langberg; Casey Energy; Cathie Bonner, Professional Skating Instructor; Cramer & Anderson Law Firm; Dr. Dana C. Jones; Fairfield County Bank; Fairfield County Financial Services; Hamlet Hub; Maida Design; Reynolds & Rowella, LLP; Ridgefield Academy; Ridgefield Fire Department; Ridgefield PBA; The Ridgefield Press; Ross Bread Shoppe & Coffee House; Study Works – Janie Larson; Tiger Sports; Turner Mechanical, Inc.; We Do Lines; and Young’s of Ridgefield.

Who will be the winner? It’s anyone’s game, but the real winner is RVNA’s Nursing Education program.  Funds raised through the Spelling Bee support RVNA Nursing Education.  RVNA spends approximately $40,000 per year on education and in-service training for its more than 80 nurses, therapists, and home health aides.  Last year, the agency served more than 1,500 patients, making well over 48,000 home care visits in 28 western Connecticut towns.

The RVNA Spelling Bee promises to be fun for the whole family, while supporting an organization that serves so many in our own community and beyond. Tickets are $20 for adults/$5 for students and can be purchased online at ridgefieldvna.org. Tickets are also available at RVNA’s Center for Exceptional Care, located at 27 Governor Street, and at the door.