If I’m terribly honest, I was expecting something far different. For roller derby, in the public mindset, comes with its own persona. That persona often is accompanied by mental images of scantily clad women, tattooed and hardcore, engaging in violent public acts and elements of drunken revelry that thumb their nose at mainstream society.In short, many seem to view roller derby as punk rock rebellion on eight wheels.
And while there are certainly fringe elements and occasional points that meet those expectations (every great lie is speckled with hearty elements of the truth) what we encountered was far from that stereotype.Rather, we met people who were kind and caring, who encouraged their fellow teammates and those rookies coming along with unnatural ease and affection. Sure, on the track they were brutal, taking no prisoners, but that bloodthirsty element was left on the track as they quickly engaged their opponents in good-natured hugs and high-fiving and gads of photo ops. And at the after parties, one saw camaraderie as opposed to one-upsmanship, no matter who had won.
While derby competition is fierce, the passion for community and the derby family is just as strong.And the thing that really struck me about that passion was the roller derby spirit of generosity. Each and every Bradentucky Bomber bout (my wife’s team) supported a local charity as did those of the Bradenton Derby Brats (my kiddos’ team.) And when the HitMen opened up a few months ago with their inaugural bout, the same held true. These were people who were out to help and who gave generously, both of their time and of their money.
And that tradition is not something solely held by the local derby community either. Recently, while watching the MRDA championships, the announcers had shared the tales of a skater or two who’d suffered some rather daunting injuries, the likes of which were going to require tons of money in medical bills. Then they went on to share how in just a few days of the injuries, some fellow skaters had put together a donation site and seen great activity in a very short amount of time.Derby takes care of its own and derby reaches out.
Now my time in derby, particularly that of being more active, has been rather short but already I feel as though I’ve stepped into something that’s bigger than me and has embraced me. That’s pretty cool and, because of that heartbeat, it’s why I feel confident in approaching you with this prospect that hit me a week ago and which I present to you today.Just last week I shared about participating in a walk that helped to raise money for an organization near and dear to my heart, Easter Seals. For those unaware, Easter Seals works to help provide aid to children and adults with developmental disabilities, offering training, education, therapy services, and much, much more. Our family has been fortunate enough to work with this population for the past several years and I cannot tell you how much our lives have been touched by each individual we’ve encountered. It’s a beautiful population of people and they have literally changed our lives.
One of the services that our local chapter provides is through an amazing program called Project Rainbow. Project Rainbow works with the families of children with these disabilities to provide respite care, offering highly skilled staff to help provide parents and caregivers some much needed time to breathe, to get some errands run, or to simply experience some “adult time.” To that effect, they also provide monthly drop-offs and so much more, providing these families with great, unexpected challenges a breath of fresh air, hope, and encouragement.And they do this all for free, supported by grants and donations.
One other critical thing that they provide comes around the holidays as they work with numbers of donors to help provide Christmas gifts for the children of these families. As you can imagine, the financial burden of raising a developmentally disabled child can be great and, for some of those families, the service that Project Rainbow provides is the only thing putting gifts under the tree.Yet, this year, that task has become a bit more difficult as their largest sponsor has had to step away due to a change in ownership and a halting economy. Leaving Project Rainbow in a dire place of need to help provide for these children.
I don’t know about you but there’s few things that get me riled up like the prospect of children not being able to celebrate a Christmas properly, enjoying a few wonderful surprises underneath the tree.So here’s what I’m hoping. I’m putting out the call to the roller derby community worldwide, from southwest Florida and beyond, to step up and to show the amazing generosity that I know is within each and every one of you. I want the world at large to see the true heart of derby, the beautiful core of giving within and to change that public perception of this sport, even if we are still a little punk rock at heart.
Here's the link: http://www.giveforward.com/rescueprojectrainbow