The First Pittsburgh Crossword Puzzle Tournament was recently held at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, and I got to volunteer for the day and see what crossword culture is all about!

Rachel Colangelo started this fundraiser as apart of her internship for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She was one of four interns, working in Patient Services.

Every summer the interns create their own fundraising events. Colangelo chose a crossword tournament “because my dad has been trying to get one in Pittsburgh for years, and this was the most realistic thing to do out of all of my ideas.”

Christie Schnelbach, Colangelo’s supervisor at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, says, “This was so different and new we were excited to hear about it.”

Rachel garnered all of the publicity by contacting local media outlets and by putting out flyers — and she sold out the room. Eighty-five contestants competed and raised over $2,600.

“She did such a good job. Next year we want her back!” says Schnelbach.

Ruth Ann Dailey, creator of the Pittsburgh Puzzler, made a special guest appearance.

“I was surprised to be contacted by the Colangelo’s,” said Dailey. “I was immediately struck by what a great idea this was and glad someone took the initiative.”

She gave a nice speech and was excited about future tournaments.  She said that as for next year, “Forget about speaking, I’m going to brush up on my skills and try to compete!”

The Winner of the Tournament was Roberta Strauss. She has been doing crossword puzzles for six-and-a-half years.

“I wanted to save money from buying newspapers, so I started doing crosswords online. It became more of a game to me.”

She has been to contests in Brooklyn twice but said it was “wonderful” to be able to play in Pittsburgh.

To sum up the day Colangelo said, “Crosswords have always been apart of my family so it was the best way we knew how to give back to the community.”

You can read more about the First Annual Pittsburgh Crossword Puzzle at pittsburghcrossword.com

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