By Ryan S. Clark
Even before this morning’s major announcement with Sanford Health, Matt and Bridget Cullen made one of their own.
The couple said Thursday they would continue their charity for two more years.
“It will be 10 years (since the foundation was created) and we will continue to be involved in the community,” said Matt Cullen, a Minnesota Wild forward from Moorhead. “With this event, it has been really good, and it might be the time to do something different.”
The Cullens founded the Cullen Children’s Foundation back in 2004.
Its purpose is to provide health care for children diagnosed with cancer who are in need.
Back in 2003, Cullen’s brother, Mark, had a mole on his back and was diagnosed with melanoma, according to the organization’s website.
His brother’s experience along with the Cullen family befriending a youth with a cancerous brain tumor while playing in Italy during the 2004-05 NHL lockout were what led to the charity’s creation.
Organizations which have been the recipients include the Dakota Medical Foundation, HOPE Inc. and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I think it is a gratifying feeling,” Bridget Cullen said about the charity’s work. “Just looking back when we’ve looked at all the people we are helping and the money we’ve raised.”
Cullen estimated the foundation has raised between $2 and $3 million during its existence.
Bridget Cullen said the foundation surpassed its goal of $500,000 hours before the fundraising effort kicked off with a silent auction was held at Usher’s in Moorhead.
Today, the foundation will host its celebrity golf tournament at the Oxbow Country Club.
Before today’s tournament begins, the foundation will be making a joint announcement with Sanford Health.
“It’s a big announcement,” said Bridget Cullen, who wasn’t about to spill the beans.
The weekend will conclude Saturday with the kid’s picnic at Newman Outdoor Field.
Photos of previous outings at Newman Outdoor Field were on display during the charity auction.
In those photos were Cullen in what has almost become his trademark outfit – traditional plaid trucker’s hat, T-shirt and shorts – greeting children with a smile.
All of this drew a smile and a bit of a laugh from Bridget Cullen.
“I think because we are both open and not afraid to be who we are,” Bridget Cullen said. “There are not really any questions with us. What you see is what you get, and we try to be good honest people. We try to be fun people and hopefully people like that.”
Cullen said he and his wife are really close with the organization’s board of directors.
That relationship, he said, allowed them to all discuss finding a “right time” to cease operations.
Cullen said the objective is to continue fundraising for the next two years and move on but still remain active in the community.
“The good part is we’ve had such an endowment, we hope we can continue to fund these organizations forever,” Cullen said. “Those organizations are so close to our hearts, and it will always be that way.”
Sports | July 13, 2012 | Page D1, D4
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