Miami - (NBC) - Nelson Dellis can shuffle a deck of cards and, in two minutes, memorize them in order. The guy knows his numbers.
While numbers give many people a headache, Dellis loves them. The 26-year-old University of Miami computer science grad student is now the national champion in speed numbers. He was given 500 random digits and in five minutes memorized 178, breaking a record at last month's U.S. Memory Championship in New York.
"When we compete, we're called mental athletes. I practice everyday,"explained Dellis. "And that's probably why I've had such great success."
He claims anyone can sharpen memory by assigning images to numbers.
"Ten, I think 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair, and other ones like 72 is George Bush because 7, the seventh letter of the alphabet is G and the second letter of the alphabet is B," he explained.
Dellis is using his skill to raise awareness about brain health and Alzheimer's.
"My grandmother passed away last summer, and she was suffering from Alzheimer's. It was tough to see her forget who I was and what she was doing," Dellis said.
So Dellis now has a different kind of challenge in mind -- climbing Mount Everest in 2011 to raise money for Alzheimer's research.
First, though, Nelson will be competing in two memory competitions thus summer, one in England and the world championship in China.