WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Adult teams of three, including members of the UNCW men’s soccer team, will try to dodge being stung by a swarm of words ranging from “school” to what Cape Fear Literacy Council Community Outreach Coordinator Erin Payne says are “words most people won’t believe are English” in this week’s CFLC spelling bee.

The 26th annual affair is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. at Pine Valley United Methodist Church, 3788 Shipyard Boulevard.

 “The event is an educational, fun, family-oriented way for us to accomplish our mission,” said Payne. “It’s also free, and there’s something for everyone who comes out.”

Twenty-three teams are competing this year, including UNCW’s Jack Ward, Sam Williams, and Brandon Bolen from the Seahawk men’s soccer team. The teams will be given a word, and have 60 seconds to agree on how to spell it. Several rounds will determine the eventual team champion.

Admission is free and open to the public. There will be prizes available for audience contests such as “Best Cheering Section” and “Best Costume.” Those attending will be invited to participate in literacy-themed games such as Sudoku and word searches. Free refreshments will be provided by Harris Teeter.

Retired broadcaster and UNCW supporter Wayne Jackson has sponsored athletic teams for the last 10 years.

 “It’s always a real interesting evening,” said Jackson. “People of all different ages and walks of life come out and get to see people in other situations they may have never experienced. College is a good experience for these kids, but it’s also good for them to help people who haven’t had the same opportunities and make a difference in their lives.”

The Friends of the New Hanover County Library won the competition last year and is tied with Cape Fear Rotary for the most wins, with each team taking home the title nine times.

The CFLC was founded in 1970 as the Wilmington Literacy Group to teach members of the community to read. As the organization expanded it became known as the Cape Fear Literacy Council. In 1985 the Cape Fear Literacy Council was officially chartered as an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. The CFLC’s mission is “to provide individualized literacy services so that adults and their families in the Cape Fear region can meet their goals and develop their potential.”