Sandra Schmirler Foundation Golf Tournament

(from left): Members of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation Golf Tournament Organizing Committee join event sponsors Nutri Lawn’s Bill and Judy Mackenzie (4th and 5th from left) and title sponsor Winn Rentals Carmel Gretzinger (far right) present a cheque for $47,000 to the NICU at Kelowna General Hospital.

It was literally a ‘cause’ for celebration this past June in Kelowna at the 2nd Annual Sandra Schmirler Foundation Golf Tournament.  Not only was a staggering $47,000 raised to support the acute care of premature infants at Kelowna General Hospital, it was also Sandra’s birthday.

The atmosphere was festive as Schmirlers’ former teammates took to the links with 150 friends and supporters to raise money for a very important cause.  The goal was to raise enough to purchase seven new cribs for the neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit at KGH.  “All of our NICU cribs are nearing the end of their service life and need to be replaced,” notes Bobbi McGrath, Manager of Women’s and Children’s Health Services at KGH.  “This is an incredible gift.  The new state-of-the-art cribs will allow us to assure the highest quality of care for our very vulnerable little newborns.”

Sandra Schmirler rose to international fame as the charismatic skip of the Canadian Olympic team that won the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, the first year women’s curling was a medal sport.  Tragically, Schmirler lost her brave battle with cancer in 2000 at age 36.  But her legacy for leadership and compassion live on through the Foundation that bears her name.

“We are thrilled!” said event chair, Sasha Carter, of achieving their goal. “We are so grateful to have had Sandra’s Olympic Gold Medallist teammates – Jan Betker, Joan McCusker, Marcia Gudereit and Lindsay Sparks – join us all the way from Saskatchewan.  It was such a great day, and a wonderful way to honor an amazing lady.”

Pictured from left Diane Gushulak, Emma Gushulak and Grace MacInnes

One of the sweetest moments of the day came after tournament, when Emma Gushulak showed up to meet the former Olympians. She even got to hold and wear the gold medal and pose for a few photo’s with the curling icons. Emma was born at premature at only 23-weeks gestation, and through the miracle of modern
neonatal technology survived and is now a happy, thriving nine year old. Emma’s parents credit the work of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation for providing the state of the art equipment and patient care items that allowed her medical team to save her life.

Funds from the proceeds of the tournament were donated to the KGH Foundation and will go directly towards the purchase of the NICU cribs. The upgraded NICU is part of the overall expansion of the perinatal unit at KGH, which opened last March and now occupies the 4th floor of the new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre.  “This group is just so much fun,” says Doug Rankmore, CEO of the KGH Foundation, who also golfed at the event.  “We are incredibly grateful to be the beneficiary of their generosity for the second year in a row.”

Through the Giving Giggles campaign, the KGH Foundation continues its commitment to raising $3 million dollars to support the purchase of advanced medical equipment and patient care items for the newly expanded perinatal unit at KGH.