Last Sunday, I had the chance to do something I don't do nearly enough these days: go bowling. And, really, the only thing that's better than a few games of bowling over a few towering glasses of beer is getting to do it all for charity.
It was the eighth annual "Bowlin' for Colons" benefit, and I was at Bowl-A-Vard on Madison's east side, along with a smattering of other skaters and staff, to represent the Mad Rollin' Dolls. Under clever team names like "The Unholy Bowlers" and "The Mad Rollin' Balls," we got our fill of through-the-legs tosses, fried cheese and Spotted Cow, and our entrance fees were donated to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, who put on the event.
This is just one example of the many charitable events in which the Mad Rollin' Dolls take part every year. Amidst all the training and production involved in running a do-it-yourself organization, some people might not know that a huge part of the league's mission statement is the work it does within the community.
Every year, the Dolls help out with a bevy of charitable events -- they took part in over 30 in 2008 alone -- and, in the spirit of the sport, they like to keep it interesting. Some of the more regular gigs include picking up trash along Highway 51 all summer long for Adopt-a-Highway, diving half-naked into Lake Monona in February for the Special Olympics Wisconsin Madison Polar Plunge, handing out water and pledging bikers during the ACT Ride, rolling around Olin-Turnville for the NAMI Walk, and donning facial hair for Mustaches for Kids. Some of their newer endeavors have included volunteering for Girls on the Run, painting houses for Project Home, and working pledge drives for WORT, to name a few.
In addition to participating in community events, the Dolls donate to dozens of local charitable organizations. A portion of every bout's proceeds is donated to a local charity, during both the home and summer seasons. The events and charities are researched, evaluated, and planned by the league's Community Outreach & Charity committee and taken to the league for a vote at the beginning of every season.
Sherie Hohs, known on the track as Busta Crimes, is a second-year skater for the Reservoir Dolls. Off the track, she's a social worker in Madison, and took over as manager of the Community Outreach & Charity committee last year.
"The Mad Rollin' Dolls feel it's important to give back to the community that has supported us so positively as a league," Hohs said. "The committee coordinates community outreach opportunities for league members to do as a group, and looks for events that welcome skaters, non-skaters, women and men alike."
In fact, the league considers this so important that it has made charity a part of membership requirements. Each skater and staff member is required to participate in at least two community outreach events each season. Next on its busy schedule, the Dolls will be volunteering at Mercury Players Theatre as ushers, partnering with the Boys & Girls Club for a "Skate with the Dolls" event, and participating in the Drag Skate '09, a fundraiser for HIV and AIDS research.
"Our goal is to entertain and inspire both on and off the rink," Hohs declares. "We encourage and organize women to participate in service to the community. We remain an organization of and for women, with powerful ties to our community and to each other."
This Saturday, March 7, the Mad Rollin' Dolls will be hosting their third bout of the 2009 season at the Alliant Energy Center, and a portion of the proceeds will go to NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. Doors for the bout open at 5 p.m., and the first jam starts an hour later.
Changing up the scenery a bit, Saturday's bout will be held in the Exhibition Hall on the Alliant campus. For the night's inter-league match-up, the Rockford Rage from just south of the Illinois state line will cross the border to play the Reservoir Dolls. The Vaudeville Vixens will face the Unholy Rollers, and the Quad Squad will have a bye.
Tickets for the bout are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and are available at MRD's local sponsors, including Freedom/Knuckleheads, Capitol City Tattoo, Cha Cha Beauty and Barber, High Noon Saloon, and Lakeside Press, and will be available at the Exhibition Hall on bout night. You can also buy them here.
As usual, the Dolls will keep the festivities going after the bout, this time hosting a derby-style pub crawl along Main Street, just off the square. They'll be hopping between the Frequency, Shamrock, and Paradise bars to nurse their post-bout battle wounds.
And, if for some crazy reason you miss the action, tune in to WORT 89.9 FM on Monday, March 9 at 7 p.m., when the "Access Hour" will feature play-by-play coverage and commentary from Saturday's bout.
Melissa Faliveno skates as Harlot Bronte with the Mad Rollin' Dolls and works as an editor and freelance writer in her spare time.