Kerry Galusha plays in Lupus Spiel USA fundraising event in Minnesota

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Kerry Galusha is a household name in Canadian curling, of that there is no doubt. The mere mention of the last name and curling fans will know exactly who you’re talking about.

That celebrity status led her to be invited to one of the biggest charity bonspiels in North America earlier this month and it raised a pile of much-needed money.

It was Lupus Spiel USA and the sixth annual edition of the event was held in Blaine, Minnesota from May 3 to 5. Billed as the largest pro-am bonspiel of its kind, Galusha was one of 58 celebrity skips from around the world that hit the ice to help bring in as much money as possible for lupus research.

“It was the biggest bonspiel I’ve ever played in,” said Galusha. “It was my first time and to get to play with so many great players was really neat. I’m a competitive person, but I’m also a fan.”

Some of the big names in attendance included Kevin Martin, who’s won nearly everything there is to win in Canadian and world curling; Glenn Howard, a four-time world men’s champion; Eve Muirhead of Scotland, an Olympic medalist and world women’s champion; and Chelsea Carey, the reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion.

Picking who would play on what team was new this year in that amateur players or teams could bid on the skip they wanted to play with through an auction that happened in advance of the bonspiel.

One of Galusha’s amateur players was a gentleman by the name of Christian Biehn and he was apparently looking forward to playing with Galusha.

“I was his first choice to play with and that’s really humbling when you hear that,” said Galusha.

Biehn wrote a post on social media following the event with part of it talking about how lucky he was to get to play with her.

“Throughout the (weekend) I was not only thanked by those on my own team for suggesting her, but also told by those on other teams that we had an awesome skip,” he said. “The phrase ‘you hit the jackpot with your skip’ was told to me often.”

A total of 58 teams hit the ice in a fun format but the games were still full eight-end affairs with some tweaks, something Galusha said made things very interesting, especially in her first game.

“We were up 9-1 with three ends to play and the other team used the ‘buy-a-tie’ option for $100,” she said. “The game basically started up again at 0-0 and we ended up losing it.”

Other mulligans included a ‘prove it’ shot, where players could be forced to play a good shot over and make it exactly; a redo of a previous shot; and a perfect draw, which involved placing a rock exactly where you want it to go, she added.

“It made things really interesting, because it changed your strategy,” she said. “Like I said, I’m competitive and I want to win, but it was all for charity and it’s all for fun.”

When everything was said and done, this year’s total ended up at $170,000, but that’s only part of it. You see, Galusha was also one of the celebrity skips in the annual Kurl for Kids charity bonspiel in Oakville, Ont., last month, an event she’s played in several times and helped raise $150,125 for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation and the Oakville Hospital Foundation.

Her brother, Jamie Koe, was also in Oakville as one of the celebrity skips.

Add it all up and Galusha helped raise more than $300,000 this year for some very worthwhile causes.

“Being a part of these events is awesome,” said Galusha. “You get to curl with regular people and it’s really special for them, but it’s also special for us. I travel from the North to do this and take time off of work to do it, but raising so much money makes it all worth it.”

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