Blakeley wins again at National Braille Challenge

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

Carmynn Blakeley, 10, right, types braille as she sits on the floor next to her mother, Rebecca Brown at their home recently.

She's a winner.

For the second time, 10-year-old Carmynn Blakeley took home first-place honors in her age division at the Braille Institute's National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles last weekend. The competition is the only one of its kind nationwide for blind or visually impaired students.

But there's more.

Out of 50 contestants from all age groups across the U.S., Carmynn was the only one to earn this year's Excellence in Spelling award.

She is the daughter of Rebecca and Joshua Brown of Owensboro.

Earning the spelling award took Carmynn by surprise, but she was pretty sure she'd walk off with the first-place win in her age division.

"I knew I was going to win," the phenom said. "I was confident."

"She said the whole night she would win," her mom said. " ... She looks forward to (the competition). She doesn't get nervous or anxious at all."

Carmynn's first-place prize was a refreshable braille display that connects via Bluetooth to an iPad or phone, allowing blind or visually impaired computer users to read text.

This was Carmynn's third time to compete in the Braille Challenge, which tests skills such as reading comprehension, proofreading, spelling, speed and accuracy.

Carmynn was a second-grader the first time the Braille Institute invited her to compete. She earned a first-place win that first year.

Last year, she finished third in her age division.

"For her to win in her age division (this year) is huge," Brown said. "We're very proud of her."

Across the nation, more than 1,200 students competed in regional battles earlier this year. From those, the Braille Institute selected 10 kids to fill slots in each of five age categories.

They are not selected one per state. Instead, the Braille Institute invited the top 50, who scored highest at regional competitions. Some states did not have a contestant.

Carmynn was the only student from Kentucky to participate this year.

Pamela Iovine, of Owensboro, is Carmynn's grandma. Iovine aid she's very proud of her granddaughter and all her accomplishments.

"She is amazing," she said.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

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