QCRG Volunteers Make Solid Impact on WNY

During the derby season, the QCRG calendar is bustling with practices, bouts, fundraisers, and after parties. What fans might not know, however, is that the league also volunteers year-round to improve the WNY community. Since the beginning of 2013, Queen City members have donned dish gloves and marathon shoes just as often as roller skates.


A Warm Winter

At the start of the year, QCRG members decorated neighborhoods, cooked for families of ill patients, and improved the lives of animals.

In December, QCRG joined B-Team Buffalo (www.bteambuffalo.com) in its yearly City of Light project.  Derby girls joined others in making the old First Ward neighborhood shimmer with holiday lights and decorations.  They also offered refreshments to residents and volunteers.

“It’s always great to give back to the community, especially during the holidays,” said Ivana LeiHerOut, who organized the QCRG volunteers. “We got to spend time bringing light and cheer to lower income areas.”

In January, QCRG teamed up with the Food Bank of WNY’s Pet Food Pantry to feed animals in need. According to Sissy Fit, the league began collecting bags and cans of cat and dog food four years ago, and the event was such a success that it became a January tradition.

Photo by HELLvis
Photo by HELLvis

“We realized that people were taking food off their own plates to feed their cats and dogs and that just isn’t right,” said Sissy. “The wonderful thing about the Pet Drive is that almost every skater and league member has a pet or has such a huge heart that it’s not hard to call upon everyone to help out.”

Last year, Crazy Legs took the drive a step further by collecting items for a local SPCA, gathering everything from dog beds to office supplies. The best part about the whole thing? “Seeing the expressions on the volunteers’ faces when we show up with boxes and boxes of donated items,” according to Sissy.

Volunteers cooked for families in need at the Ronald McDonald House (www.rmhcwny.org) in February. Bette Churass, who has run the event five times, says that the old Buffalo mansion is a beautiful locale and the opportunity to provide buffet-style meals for the residents is rewarding.

“They provide the pots and pans and we fill them with great food cooked with love,” she said. “It is a team building experience for us and we are giving back to our community. We provide the ingredients and the woman power and they appreciate a home cooked meal during the cold winter months.”

Bette said that the RM House survives off of volunteer groups like QCRG.

“Anyone can donate some time even if they are not an expert chef,” she said.  “We all have a favorite family recipe we can share with someone who needs some comfort food.”

A Bright Spring

In March, Dillar Dollar and crew started collecting prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, cocktail dresses—you name it— to donate to the 2013 Prom Dress Drive, a city-wide collection run by Legislator Lynne Dixon.  QCRC was able to collect around 40 dresses total. The dresses were dry cleaned and joined other donations from throughout the city in a “shopping day” where high school students unable to afford prom attire could pick out a dress and attend in style.

Photo by HELLvis.
Photo by HELLvis.

“This was a great event to be a part of because it truly impacted the community and allowed girls to attend their proms like everyone else, without the added stress of the cost,” Dillar said. “Girls who couldn’t otherwise afford their dresses can come and pick out a dress in hopes of making it the perfect evening.”

As the weather warmed up in April, QCRG volunteers swapped skates for spikes in the Walk a Mile marathon (https://www.facebook.com/WalkAMileBuffalo). As part of the annual event, men and women marched along Main Street in high heels to take a stand against sexual assault, domestic violence and violence towards elders.  All proceeds go to Crisis Services, a non-profit organization.

“It was awesome to see the community get together and take a stand against these hateful issues that are more prevalent then we seem to think,” said Spicy Pierogi, who organized the QCRG members. “Not to mention seeing the men in the high heels. I’m not going to lie, some of them walked better in the heels than I can.”

The event was even promoted at a home bout, where Queen City’s male officials put on heels at half time and proudly walked the center track.

Spicy also helped organize roller girls for the Canal Cleanup in North Tonawanda to spiffy up the parks and public areas for summer.

“It was great seeing people get together to make the community a cleaner place,” she said.

An Active Summer

May and June were all about lacing up the running shoes and promoting an active lifestyle with the MS Walk, Stiletto Run, Girls on the Run 5K, and the Kidney Walk, which raises support for patient services and research related to renal disease (www.healthykidneys.org)

Bang GRRrang worked the hair tent with the other volunteers at Girls on the Run (http://www.gotrbuffalo.org/5k.html) an event where young females from all over Buffalo train three times a week for 10 weeks to participate in a 5K run.  She got to know the “amazing girls” on a personal level while french braiding and decorating the runners with fake tattoos.

Photo by HELLvis
Photo by HELLvis

“We learned what schools they were from, who their coaches and teammates were and we even took some photos with them,” Bang said. “It was amazing to see not only the young girls running, but all the mentors who were there to run with them.”

According to the volunteer, the event was akin to QCRG in that it promoted “healthy living, self- esteem, developing positive relationships, and learning life skills.”

“At the end of the race, we gave out medals to all the participants,” Bang said. “To see their faces and how proud they were of themselves for completing such a long race gave me chills.”

Bang also assembled QCRG to participate in the Stiletto Run, an annual event in which both men and women slip on 3-inch heels and trot along Elmwood Avenue.  The .5k run raises awareness for ovarian cancer.

“This is always one of my favorite volunteer events. It is such a positive, upbeat event to participate in,” she said.

Ivana also organized derby members to skate in the MS Society Walk (www. nationalmssociety.org), a Buffalo Harbor event that raises support for people with multiple sclerosis and brings awareness of the disease to the public.

“Participating in walks with skates is always a fun time. It’s also enlightening to meet people who have dealt with and overcome a lot,” she said. “They think we’re cool for playing roller derby, but in reality they’re the remarkable people.”

Sissy Fit best expressed what it’s like to be a QCRG volunteer.

“I couldn’t be prouder and happier to be part of an organization that gives back to the community the way that we do,” she said.

~Maulbright Knocks