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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 15 2009

Cully's curator: Cullen's wife is driving force behind foundation

Bridget Cullen obtained her masters degree in human services administration from Bradley University. After five years as the executive director of the Cullen Children’s Foundation, she could write a doctoral thesis in a week.

The face of the project is Matt Cullen, the former Moorhead High star now playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. He does his share of work for the foundation.

But it’s a year-around hobby for his wife.

“Some people were made to do certain things,” Matt said. “I was made to play hockey. She was made to do this.”

The fifth annual Cully’s Kids weekend begins Friday with a scramble golf tournament at the Moorhead Country Club, a 7 p.m. silent auction at The Hub followed by a concert by the band Betty Does.

The Cully’s Kids picnic is Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Newman Outdoor Field. Sound like a simple weekend?

The complexities, however, are numerous.

It makes for 40- to 50-hour weeks for Bridget in the month leading up to the weekend. Details, details, details.

“Every time I get stressed, I just walk away and look at the pictures of the kids and I’m back at it,” she said.

She has a slideshow of photographs of the first four years on her computer. Her favorite photo: one of Matt drinking Kool-Aid out of the Stanley Cup with one of Cully’s Kids, who died not long after that.

“In the summer, she goes all day,” Matt said. “Her passion for it and her energy around those kids is awesome.”

The energy has transpired into a staggering fundraising effort, currently at over $1.1 million in just four years. The Foundation funded eight different organizations last year.

The initial goal in the first year was $50,000. The total was about $200,000, which caused the Cullens to think bigger.

“Then we went, ‘Whoa, if we put it together, we can do so much more,’ ” Bridget said. “Now, it has a mind of its own.”

The weeks after the tournament are spent with thank yous and working on grants. Tax returns, mailings, receipts, other paperwork and sponsorships are done over the winter. Finding silent auction items never takes a day off.

The big items come from committee member Mike Larson. One piece from Tiger Woods netted $11,000 last year.

“We’re going to be here when Matt retires,” Bridget said. “This is the place I want to be. It’s given us so much that now we’re at the point where we feel like we should give back and doing this for the kids is the best for us.”

Matt saw Bridget’s affinity for needy kids when both were at Moorhead High.

“She was friends with kids who had problems or different disabilities,” he said. “She amazed me then.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the

WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia