Resident of BMA Affordable Assisted Living Community Has a Lot to Celebrate

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Dorie Johnson, a resident of the Heritage Woods of Rockford affordable assisted living community has a lot to celebrate. Today is her 90th Birthday and she will be competing with her partner in the finals of a state Spelling Bee next month.

"A few nights, I'd even wake up in my sleep, thinking of how to spell words."

A week after dominating a regional spelling bee for residents who live in affordable assisted living communities, Dorie Johnson has a lot to celebrate: it’s her 90th birthday today, and she will compete in the state tournament with her spelling partner next month.

“I studied the words every night,” said Johnson, from her home in Heritage Woods of Rockford. “I practiced them by myself. My daughter quizzed me. A few nights, I’d even wake up out of my sleep, thinking of how to spell words.”

Her dedication and partnership with fellow Heritage Woods resident Nita Mahan earned them a Gold Medal in the Illinois Supportive Living Spelling Bee Regional Finals. The Bee-lievers team will move onto the state tournament May 14 -15 at the Decatur Hotel and Conference Center in Decatur, Illinois.

“This has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done in my life. Who would have thought I’d win a spelling bee – at 84?” Mahan said, as she flipped through dozens of pages she’s reviewing to prepare for the tournament.

Each night, the former teacher will study for at least an hour. She’ll say the word, break it down into syllables, look up the definition and use it in a sentence. Then, she’ll spell it. There are hundreds of words – some that she’s never seen before – from the notoriously tough Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

“These words are much harder than last time. We’re going to give it our best try,” said Johnson, who planned to study after her birthday celebration tonight. “We have an amazing amount of pride in being able to represent Heritage Woods of Rockford and to know that we can think so clearly and spell so well against great competition.”

More than 100 teams across the state entered the spelling contest, which is sponsored by the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition. Only 12 teams will compete at the state tournament.

Heritage Woods of Rockford is managed by BMA Management, Ltd., the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois.

The team from Heritage Woods of Rockford will be joined by five other BMA Management communities that qualified for the state tournament. They are the Cambridge House of Maryville and Cambridge House of Swansea affordable assisted living communities in the Metro East area of St. Louis; the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living communities in Charleston and Manteno, Illinois and Prairie Living at Chautauqua in Carbondale, Illinois.

"Our focus at BMA is on providing residents with the love, compassion and dignity that they deserve and the help and assistance that they need to achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible," says Rod Burkett, President and CEO of BMA Management.

Based in Bradley, Illinois, BMA Management operates 36 senior living communities, housing nearly 3,400 homes and apartments.

Communities managed by BMA include Heritage Woods of Belvidere and Heritage Woods of Freeport, an affordable assisted living community, expected to open in June.

BMA is developing Heritage Woods of Freeport in partnership with the Stephenson County Nursing Center Foundation. Reservations are being accepted.

For more information about BMA or the communities that the company manages, visit or call 1-877-882-1495 toll-free.

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