Like golf, curling always does a great job in raising money for causes near and dear to players in the sport.
One of those causes is the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, named after the late Canadian curling legend, which raises funds to buy equipment to help critically-ill children.
And that’s where Kerry Galusha and Jamie Koe come in as they were out east last weekend to help in the cause.
The Kurl For Kids bonspiel was back in Oakville, Ont., for the first time since 2019 and the siblings were two of 28 skips from around the world to lend a hand in playing on the ice April 15 and 16 and getting as much money as they could for the cause off of it.
Koe figured this was the eighth time he’s played in the event and it was good to be able to see some old friends again.
“It’s always held on the Easter weekend so going to it depends on how close it is to the Brier,” he said. “Everyone has a great time and you want to make sure of that as one of the guest skips. I’ve done it for so long and really missed it.”
Galusha figures she’s gone at least one more time than her brother and she always makes it a point to go whenever she can.
“I try to make it an annual thing,” she said. “The organizing committee does so much work to make it happen and they make it easy to say yes. It’s such a great family atmosphere and we get to raise a lot of money for a cause that is so close to our family.”
The bonspiel is absolutely non-competitive, even though there are winners crowned at the end of it all. The format features people trying to raise as much money as they can because it determines which skip they play with. The person who comes in with the highest total gets the first “draft” pick, which happened on the evening of April 14. It goes on down the line in order of money raised until all 28 teams have been filled.
No word on when Galusha or Koe got picked first but Koe ended up being the second-best skip in terms of fundraising as he was shade under $2,100.
“I think I was about $30 short of being the top … if I’d known that, I would have bumped myself up with my own money,” said Koe with a laugh.
The draft happened at the opening banquet, which usually includes a guest speaker talking about their experience with a crisis involving their child.
Galusha said this year’s story had a very happy ending.
“The story we heard is that the child is thriving,” she said. “You hear the stories of people who have been in that situation and it brings it close to home because I have friends who have had premature babies.”
The NWT has also benefited greatly from the Schmirler Foundation’s generosity, she added.
“It’s given lots of money to us here,” she said. “It isn’t like we’re raising money and it all stays down south. The foundation has helped out a lot across all three territories.”
From there, it was all happening on the ice as there were proper games played, short-version games and skills competitions for various prizes. Once everything was done on the ice, the business off the ice began and it all concluded with presentations of prizes, awards and the announcement of the amount raised, which was $128,580. That money is being split between the Schmirler Foundation and the Oakville Hospital Foundation.
Not too far from where the siblings were playing was their older brother, Kevin Koe, in Toronto. He was there for the Players Championship, one of the events on the Grand Slam circuit, but they weren’t able to make the schedules work to go and watch him. Kevin Koe ended up losing in the quarter-final.
“If he had gotten to the final, we could’ve been able to but as soon as we were on the ground, we were off and running,” said Koe.