Curlers Give Back at the SCI Ontario Curling Classic

A group of elite Canadian curlers took time out of their busy competitive schedules last week to participate in the 12th annual The Dominion SCI Ontario Curling Classic bonspiel in support of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, raising over $116,000 and demonstrating once again how enthusiastically curlers embrace opportunities to “give back.”

Skip Jill Mouzar talks strategy with a teammate at the SCI Ontario Curling Classic (Photo Kevin Chasty)

Participants at the event, held Jan. 14 at the St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, included a number of World, Canadian and Provincial curling champions: Team Howard (Wayne Middaugh, Craig Savill and Brent Laing); Team Middaugh (Sherry Middaugh, Jo-Ann Rizzo and Lee Merklinger); Team Mouzar (Jill Mouzar and Danielle Inglis); Team Epping (John Epping, Scott Bailey, Scott Howard and David Mathers); and Canadian Champions Paul Savage and Bob Turcotte.

Featuring both a bonspiel and a Hot Shots competition, curlers of all levels were teamed up with the “celebrity” skips and battled it out on the ice.

“We were just as happy to be there as they were happy to have us,” said Danielle Inglis, who plays second on Jill Mouzar’s Ontario-based team currently competing along with Team Middaugh at the provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts playdowns in Kitchener-Waterloo. The curlers are all sponsored by The Dominion and were happy to attend an event that allows them to show their appreciation for sponsor support, while contributing significantly to a good cause.

And Inglis was particularly happy – she came up big against her own skip.

“My first game was a learning experience,” said Mouzar, tongue firmly in cheek. “My team was not made up of really experienced curlers, so we lost by a couple of points… to Danielle Inglis.”The fun factor is huge in curling, of course, and that contributes to the ability of curling events to attract willing participants.

“I had a great team, a couple of brokers from Chatham. They were really fun guys,” Mouzar said. “I learned a lot about insurance!”

Celebrity skip Danielle Inglis and her team in action (Photo Kevin Chasty)

“Unfortunately our team was not so lucky on the ice,” reports John Epping, who will be heading to Barrie for the Ontario The Dominion Tankard on Feb. 4. “[We] lost our first game and then tied the second game. But we definitely enjoyed ourselves. I played with great people and that makes for a fun day.”

Epping’s team of Scott Bailey, Scott Howard and David Mathers went on to win the other fundraising event of the day.“One the highlights for me on the ice was winning the Hot Shots Challenge,” said Epping. “Spectators were able to bet on which team they thought would win.”Epping’s foursome may have taken the bragging rights, but of course the real winner was SCI Ontario, which has been providing programs and services to people with a spinal cord injury for over fifty years.

“A day like today allows us to bring together our industry friends and some of Canada’s best curlers to join in the support of a very worthwhile organization”, said Brigid Murphy, President and CEO of The Dominion. “The contribution that these organizations have made, along with the countless others who participated in the SCI Curling Classic, will make an incredible difference in the lives of people living with spinal cord injuries in Ontario.”

“Curlers aren’t hockey players or baseball players,” said Mouzar when asked about the willingness of high-profile curlers to become involved in charity events like the SCI Classic, which bring curlers and non-curlers together in a day of fun and fundraising. “We all have jobs. So we relate to all of these non-athletic people. It makes it really easy to relate to us,” she said, adding: “We like to hang out with people!”

“It’s amazing to be involved with an event that raised $116,505 for spinal cord injury,” Epping said, noting that the benefits go two ways. “The day is for a great cause, and I’m very honoured to be a part of it.”

Canada’s high-profile curlers will be “giving back” at the upcoming Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier when they go into the stands for the annual crowd sweep to help raise money for The Sandra Schmirler Foundation. Read about the curling community’s tradition of supporting charities in this story from last season: “Giving Back: It’s a big part of curling culture.”