Schmirler still reaching out

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

Nearly six years after her death from cancer, Sandra Schmirler continues to touch lives -- very young ones.

The Sandra Schmirler Foundation -- which has TSN analyst and former world champion Linda Moore as its executive director -- has raised nearly half a million dollars since its inception in 2001 and this year has concentrated its focus on helping newborns in danger. Among its donations this year is $50,000 to the Children's Health Foundation of London.

"We wanted to do something more tangible," said Schmirler's husband, Shannon England. "We'd been donating to three charities before, all kids-related -- cystic fibrosis, the Children's Miracle Network and Ronald McDonald House -- but when you give to the bigger charities, you don't necessarily see your work go into something."

Sandra Schmirler, with her rink of Jan Betker, Joan McCusker and Marcia Gudereit, won three Scott Tournament of Hearts titles between 1993 and 1997 and added the Olympic gold medal in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.

"People could relate to her because she was so ordinary and normal," Betker said when asked why Schmirler was so widely respected. "She didn't put on airs.

"We're not surprised the foundation is a success, but initially we were taken aback by the response."

"We were overwhelmed by the love and support we got from across Canada," Gudereit added.

To raise funds, the foundation held a telethon on TSN yesterday and a pass-the-bucket "crowd sweep" is planned during Saturday's semifinal.

England had a message for people who are battling cancer.

"You've got to keep a positive attitude," he said. "Don't give up and try your darnedest to beat it."


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