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Fun, food laughter mark SaskStars event

Three famous Canadian athletes shared memories, words of wisdom, and laughter with close to 200 people at a sports banquet in Humboldt last week.
Joan McCusker (left), Olympic gold medal winning curler from Saskatchewan, was one of three sports legends who spoke at the BHP Billiton Sask Stars event held in Humboldt on March 11. Retired NHL player Dennis Hull and retired Saskatchewan Roughrider George Reed (right) were also at the head table.

Three famous Canadian athletes shared memories, words of wisdom, and laughter with close to 200 people at a sports banquet in Humboldt last week.
The BHP Billiton SaskStars Dinner, a fund-raising event for the water spray park in Humboldt, was held March 11 and featured sports legends Joan McCusker, Dennis Hull, and George Reed as the guest speakers.
The event was organized by JCI Humboldt, with the help of Wray Morrison and his SaskStars program, BHP Billiton, and the Bella Vista Inn in Humboldt.
BHP offered to pay the expenses for the event, while the Bella Vista offered to donate the cost of the meal, explained Larry Jorgenson of JCI Humboldt. Other local groups and businesses donated items for the silent and live auction portion of the event, he added.
"Every dime raised tonight goes to the spray park," Jorgenson said. "After tonight, we will be very close or finished with raising funds."
JCI committed to raise $110,000 of the $150,000 cost to build the spray park, after the City of Humboldt committed $40,000 to the project.
JCI and the city have been working on the project for approximately five years.

At the end of the night, $27,000 was raised by the dinner, including a large donation of $10,000 from Conexus.
This puts JCI Humboldt within about $9,000 of their target of $150,000, with one outstanding grant application remaining.
Wray Morrison, born and raised in Pleasantdale, SK, has organized two or three of these events around the province, focused on helping local communities raise funds for projects important to their citizens.
One was held in Kindersley last year to help the community raise funds to rebuild their hockey rink after it burned down .
Morrison sees these events as his way of helping improve the quality of life in communities in Saskatchewan.
"The more communities that thrive, the better it is for the province," Morrison said.
Joan McCusker, three-time provincial curling champion, three-time Canadian champion, and Olympic gold medalist with the Sandra Schmirler curling team was among those speaking at the event.
"Tonight is about having fun," McCusker said. "Curlers have great stories because they are just average Joes who work hard and play hard."
McCusker grew up on a farm near Saltcoats and played lots of sports.
"As a farm kid, I have a different perspective about what you can achieve in sports," she said.
McCusker also says that Saskatchewan athletes, especially curlers, are different from a lot of others.
"We do not have that sense of arrogance that so many have," she laughed, as she looked at Hull, sitting next to her. "The way we raise our kids is different."
Curlers also have a different perspective on life, as they receive a lot of attention at the higher levels, but they still reveal themselves as regular people thanks to the microphones the whole team wears during some games.
"We know they are just like us," McCusker said. "They get mad and swear. They get nervous, panic and make mistakes."
McCusker also talked about her experience at the Olympics.
"The people who make it to the Olympics don't have anything in common, except an attitude," she explained. "They are stubborn, pig-headed and don't give up. The persevere and find a way to overcome the obstacles in the way of their dreams."
A sense of humour is also an important tool for athletes, she added.
"It's better to laugh at yourself and find the humour in situations, rather than get down," she said. "Our team learned to make each other laugh."
Dennis Hull of Ontario, the sometimes overshadowed brother of Bobby Hull, also spoke at the event. He took a light-hearted approach, sharing stories of his playing days with the Chicago Blackhawks - the only NHL team he every played with.
"It was never a problem," Hull said of his brother's career. "The whole league was in his shadow."
Hull also praised Humboldt-born goalie Glenn Hall, calling him the greatest goalie of all time. The two played together in Chicago from 1964-1967, before Hall went to St. Louis. Hull has made the trip to Humboldt before, as he was present when Hall was inducted into the Humboldt and District Sports Hall of Fame 20 years ago.
Hull made it to three Stanley Cup finals with Chicago, but never captured the trophy as the team lost all three times to the Montreal Canadians, all in the seventh game.
Hull remembers the first NHL game he played in, October 14, 1964. The Blackhawks were playing the Detroit Red Wings, and Gordie Howe.
"He was my all-time hero," Hull noted. "This was my third time at an NHL game and it was the first time I got in free."
Hull was part of Team Canada who played the Soviets in the Summit Series in 1972.
"That was a true highlight of my career," Hull said.
Hull retired from the NHL in 1979.
George Reed, probably the most well-known of the three speakers - at least in Saskatchewan - played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and was on the team that brought the first Grey Cup to Saskatchewan in 1966.
"I had some outstanding moments when playing with the Riders, but bringing the first Grey Cup to the province was outstanding," Reed said. "When we went to the Grey Cup in 1966, no one gave us a chance to win, but we felt we were a pretty good team."
Reed received several honours during his time as a football player, including being named the outstanding Canadian player in the league. A native of Vicksburg, Miss., Reed played with the Riders, his only team in the CFL, from 1963-1975.
Reed admitted to the crowd that he and Ron Lancaster almost quit the team after his second year with the Riders because they didn't like the coach. But the coach was hired away by Toronto and the new coach, Eagle Keys, became a team favourite for the way he treated the players, Reed noted.
In a game in Calgary in 1967, the Riders were leading at half time and Keys' gave a short, memorable speech, Reed remembered.
"Keys said that three things were going to happen in the second half. 'The centre was going to hand the ball to Lancaster, then Lancaster was going to hand the ball to Reed'," he laughed. "I carried the ball 24 times in the second half."
Reed told the crowd that he really enjoyed playing, but he misses hanging out in the locker room.
"Games came and went, and I never got too excited, but I think I will always miss the guys," Reed said.