Cashspiel is right on button

STEVE GREEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:31 AM ET

Its entries have contained world champions and Olympic medallists, so it's easy to view the Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Cashspiel as a quality curling event.

What can't be denied, however, is its ability as a fundraiser in the fight against breast cancer.

The 12th annual event, a points stop on the World Curling Tour, kicks off tomorrow morning at London, Ilderton and Highland with 30 rinks vying for the $11,000 first prize of the $35,000 purse. In its previous 11 editions, the cashspiel has raised $172,915 for local breast cancer research and care through the London Regional Cancer Program.

A shade under $14,000 was raised last year, but cashspiel chairperson Lynn Baker of Ilderton said there are no targets.

"That's something we never do. We figure anything we can donate is a bonus. We are first and foremost a cashspiel and we have to pay that $35,000 first."

Baker said teams' entry fees cover most of the purse. The rest, including what is donated, comes from sponsorship, a celebrity clinic tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the London club, a reception for sponsors, spectator donations and draws and raffles.

The clinic, which was sold out last spring, is being staged by national Olympic coach Jim Waite and Scott Arnold, whose mother Donna died of breast cancer in 2000 and after whom the cashspiel's trophy is named.

Among the 12 cashspiel participants helping out are Mary Anne Arsenault of Halifax, last year's Nova Scotia champion and part of the Colleen Jones rink that played in the 2006 Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the John Labatt Centre, and Marilyn Bodogh of St. Catharines, the 1986 (in London) and 1996 national Hearts champion who won the world title both years.

Among the entries this year is Bingyu Wang of China, last year's world women's runner-up who burst onto the world stage by nearly beating Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg in the final after defeating her in the round-robin and Page 1-2 playoff game.

Rachel Homan of Ottawa CC is back to defend her title, while two-time cashspiel champion and 2003 world champion Deb McCormick of Madison, Wis., is also entered.

Other notables include four-time Canadian and two-time world senior women's champ Anne Dunn of Galt, two-time Canadian champion Alison Goring of Thornhill Bayview, Janet Harvey of Winnipeg, who represented Manitoba at the 2006 Hearts, 2005 Ontario champ Jenn Hanna of Ottawa CC and two-time defending world junior champ Eve Muirhead of Scotland.

Carrying the local hopes will be Kim Tuck of Ilderton, who's headed to the national mixed next month in Iqaluit, Nunavut, with her husband Wayne, and Ilderton clubmate Amie Coward.

Despite losing some teams to Grand Slam events on the weekends on either side, the fact this cashspiel can still pull in some recognized names speaks to several things, Baker said.

"I think our purse has a lot to do with it and we do have some who come every year, so that says the event is a success," she said. "Plus breast cancer touches so many people, you can't find someone who hasn't been touched directly or indirectly. You just don't have people saying no."

Some changes have been necessary, however. The clinic and sponsors' reception replaces the pro-am. As well, the number of teams could be reduced as there were two spots left open this time.

SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO WOMEN'S CHARITY CASHSPIEL

When: Tomorrow through Monday

Where: Highland, London and Ilderton clubs

Draw times: Tomorrow -- 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at LCC and Ilderton, 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Highland; Saturday -- 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m. at LCC; 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 9 p.m. at Ilderton, 5:30 p.m. at Highland; Sunday -- 9 a.m., 2 p.m. at Ilderton, 9 a.m. at Highland; Quarter-finals, 7 p.m. at Highland; Monday -- Semifinals, 9 a.m. at Highland; Final, 1 p.m. at Highland.

Admission: Donations to breast cancer research and cure at the door

Information: www.sowcc.isp.ca


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