Legend continues to make a difference

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

The little girl from Biggar, Sask., has become even larger after death than she was in life. And she was a giant among curlers in life.

Her name will live on not only because of what she accomplished on the pebble but because of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, a charity that now raises funds for neo-natal care.

"We've all worked hard at that to make sure it represents the person she was," said Schmirler's second Joan McCusker.

"I'm proud of the (Canadian Curling Association) and Scott Paper (title sponsor for the Tournament of Hearts) for taking that initiative. We're now focused on neo-natal care, which was always our first charity when we started.

"And I just can't think of a better fit for Sandra's legacy."

Shannon England, Schmirler's widower, is a director for the foundation.

Previously, the foundation raised funds for Ronald McDonald House, Cystic Fibrosis and the Children's Miracle Network.

But that changed to neo-natal care three years ago "because that was something that Sandra started when she was alive," said Scott Paper's Robin Wilson, who sits on the foundation's advisory board.

'START SMALL'

Its slogan is, "Champions start small" and a new Schmirler pin has been produced for this year.

Once the current curling campaign is over, the foundation will have raised about $750,000 since its official inception in 2001, the year after Schmirler succumbed to cancer, Wilson said.

"She has left a big legacy behind and it is particularly poignant when we go back to Regina," Wilson said. "You never want to see anyone die at such a young age but so much good has come out of it."

Wilson figured that another $100,000 would be raised at this morning's TSN Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon.

The first day of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, by the way, has been declared Sandra Schmirler Day -- every year.


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