WINDSOR, ONT. -- The champion of the WFCU Scripps Regional Spelling Bee is being rewarded with a $2,500 scholarship by the Windsor Family Credit Union after a trip to Washington, D.C. was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

On Friday, Giovanna Patcas was presented with the cheque from the WFCU during a video call meeting with representatives from the credit union, the bee and local media.

Patcas won the regional bee in early March, booking her ticket to the national bee in the U.S., but new measures put in place to safeguard against the spread of the novel coronavirus led to the cancellation of the Scripps bee for the first time since the Second World War.

“I’m just extremely grateful, I’m just really happy,” says Patcas. “I’m really appreciative of it and that the community decided to this.”

Patcas won in 20 rounds, beating out 33 other spellers from 18 schools in the bee on March 8 held at the Chrysler Theatre in downtown Windsor.

It was the second crack at the title and the trip to the week-long Scripps National Spelling Bee in the U.S. for the Grade 8 student, who finished runner-up in 2019.

Bee rules only allow participants from Grades 4 through 8, so with the cancellation of the event, Patcas was left without another chance to get to the stage in the U.S. capital.

“I know it’s not Washington but it will certainly help towards your post-secondary [education],” says Beth Ann Prince, the manager of community investment and member engagement at the WFCU.

Prince says the credit union as paid out $300,000 in local scholarships over the years to support deserving students and Patcas fit well with that group.

“We just wanted to make sure you had something from WFCU to remember this experience,” says Prince.

The L.A. Desmarais Catholic Elementary School student is attending high school next year, and has dreams of attending an Ivy League school in the future.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee was slated to run the final week of May.