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Ben Smith

Curl for a Cause was the brain child of Nancy Margeson, Managing Director of The Health Services Foundation of the South Shore and John Biddle, a member of the Health Services Foundation, both ardent curlers, who thought that curling might be a way to raise money for Health Care.


They approached the Bridgewater Club but found that neither ice time on a week-end nor sufficient clubroom space to run such an event were available.  They approached me to explore the possibility of using the Lunenburg Curling Club for a spiel.  At that time the Lunenburg Club ran very successful Mariner Mixed and Youth Bonspiels and it seemed another week-end spiel might be possible.  I quickly learned there were two restrictions.  1) In order to get support from the businesses and citizens of the Lunenburg/Mahone Bay/Riverport district the money raised would have to go to Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital and 2) the only week-end available in 2000/2001 was on St. Patrick’s Day (which was at the end of March Break when lots of people were on holiday). 


At the time Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital was trying to obtain permission from the Department of Health and the South Shore District Health Authority to convert the former obstetric area, nursery and operating room into an Ambulatory Care Unit and it needed a financial boost to get the project approved.  A committee was formed including Al Kenney, Steve Rhodenizer, Byron Tanner, Ron Ernst, Hugh Plant, John Biddle, Nancy Margeson and me as Chair. Don Hebb looked after the scoring team of curlers from the Masters and Doug Himmelman and friends provided a chowder dinner on Saturday night.


A search for sponsors was critical. Maritime Tel and Tel agreed to be the presenting sponsor but only if we covered up the bare bottom on our proposed symbol -a guy in a Johnny Shirt riding on top of a curling rock!! (MTT had recently come under fire for a picture on the cover of their phone books of a skating competitor doing a spin with her panties showing!!!)


We then made a list of all the businesses in Lunenburg and as many private citizens as possible who might sponsor a rock or a broom.  A cover with the sponsor names was added on each of the rocks. Individual stylized brooms with names were hung around the walls of the clubhouse.  We had 20 teams that first year. On St. Patrick’s day we drank green beer and late Saturday night we did something called Midnight Madness. It included games like sliding a roasting pan down the ice (with a turkey inside), a putting contest to see who could get a golf ball closest to the opposite button, and curling a Little Rock from one corner of the ice diagonally to the house in the opposite corner.  We raised $27,000 that year which included a special donation of $20,000 from a supporting organization.


The second year Eric Miller replaced John Biddle on the committee.  Our contribution the first year had helped to get the construction of the Ambulatory Care Centre started!!!  In year 2 we were asked to raise money towards the equipment for the new Centre.  We were able to increase the number of participants to 24 teams (our optimum number which we aim for every year) and the number of sponsors grew from 90 to 140.  Both years we had tremendous support from the members of the LCC, especially from the Masters and the Day Ladies, as well as from the community in general.


The Ambulatory Care Centre has turned out to be one of the busiest, best designed, best equipped, brightest and cleanest departments in a rural hospital in the Province. 


Curl For A Cause has been an Annual Fund Raiser for Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital since 2001 and each year the funds raised are used to purchase new equipment for different departments.  When you, a family member or a neighbour use this hospital, whether to have blood taken, be treated in the Emergency Department, the Ambulatory Care Centre, the in –patient Medical Department, the Patterson Restorative Care Department, the Alternative Level of Care Department, the Physiotherapy Department, the Veteran’s Unit or even to have dinner in the Cafeteria, there is a strong possibility that equipment being used was funded from a Curl For A Cause contribution. This year Curl For A Cause will be replacing five older beds and mattresses in the Veterans Unit.

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