Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects over 55,000 people in the eight counties of WNY. I had the pleasure of learning about Blondes vs Brunettes, a powder puff flag football game that aims to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. This unique charity that started in Washington, D.C. in 2005 has now become a national campaign. This event now takes place in Amarillo, Austin, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Evansville, Houston, Indianapolis, Jackson, Kansas City, Lexington, Louisville, Lubbock, Nashville, and New York City.
Tracey Callisto, co-chair of the program in Buffalo, sat down and spoke with me about the event and just how important it is to this community.
SS: What is Blondes vs Brunettes?
TC: Blondes vs Brunettes (BvB) is a volunteer-driven event that involves two teams of women, divided to reflect the age-old rivalry between Blondes and Brunettes, who compete in a flag football game to help end Alzheimer’s disease. The participants also recruit coaches, announcers and other volunteers to build an atmosphere of fierce, but friendly competition. Leading up to game day, the two teams participate in a series of events to socialize and increase awareness. Although for a very serious cause, the emphasis on this event is total fun. The girls really play, the guys really coach and the referees really make the calls on the field! The girls are supported by male coaches who teach the girls the game of football. These groups of volunteers are dedicated to supporting research, awareness, and education about Alzheimer's disease.
SS: Who started BvB?
TC: In Buffalo, I was the person who organized the event. However, it was started by Sara Allen Abbott and Ryan Triplette in Washington, D.C.
SS: When was BvB in Buffalo started?
TC: In Buffalo, we started in 2009.
SS: Why was Blonde vs Brunettes started?
TC: To tackle Alzheimer’s disease
SS: What makes BvB so unique?
TC: BvB is so unique because these girls have such a strong bond and there are great relationships that form.
SS: What kinds of fundraisers does BvB participate in or run?
TC: We have many events that lead up to game day including a draft party, a purple/black dress event, beer blast, and a kickoff event
SS: When do these fundraisers take place?
TC: The events start in May with the draft party, this event helps the vets meet the rookies and the teams get drafted at this event. The event is to help get the girls excited about the event and explain what BvB is about. In June, there is a purple/black dress event that gives the girls a chance to dress up and raise money for the BvB football game. This is a chance for people to meet the teams playing in the big game. In July, there is a beer blast that again is used to raise money and awareness. In August, there is a kickoff event for the game which includes a Bachelorette auction. The girls involved with the game get items together such as dinners and date packages that will be awarded to the highest bidder. People can also make donations and sponsor a girl.
SS: Where does the money that gets raised go?
TC: All the money goes to the WNY Alzheimer’s association
SS: What are your future plans for BvB?
TC: My future plans for BvB are to exceed more goals. My goal for the 5th year of the powder puff game of Blondes Vs Brunettes is $90,000 which I think is a very easily achievable goal with how successful it has been in the past. There have also been more athletes getting involved with the cause because of the link between concussions and Alzheimer’s that have been made. Just recently, we had a Buffalo Bills Alumni event that included some Buffalo Bills players along with some of the BvB ladies and all the proceeds of that event went to the WNY chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Each year BvB has managed to exceed all of the goals that have been set. In the four years that the event has taken place BvB has raised over $195,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association of WNY. Check out bvbbuffalo.com for more information and to stay updated on when the next BvB game will be held and how you can be a part of it.