from the Tallahassee Democrat…
An age-old rivalry is being put to good use.
Tallahassee’s annual Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football game is coming up next month. The game is part of the Alzheimer’s Association RivALZ league, which raises funds nationwide for Alzheimer’s awareness.
Hannah Volz, a spokeswoman for the Central and North Florida chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said about 40 different RivALZ games happen all over the country. They aren’t all Blondes vs. Brunette games, any rivalry counts for RivALZ.
Tallahassee’s event is on May 13th on Florida High’s campus.
For Volz, the issue is a personal one. Many players who come out to participate have been impacted by Alzheimer’s in some way – if it’s not personal, there aren’t many degrees of separation.
“I lost three grandparents to Alzheimer’s and one to vascular dementia,” she said. “This is a cause that’s really close to my heart. It’s been kind of cool to go from being a volunteer to being a staff person now working for the Alzheimer’s association.”
The game isn’t limited to blondes and brunettes, of course. People outside those two hair colors are considered free agents, capable of joining either squad.
“We welcome everybody,” Volz said with a smile.
The fundraising goal for this year’s event is $20,000. As of Sunday evening, $8,387 has been raised toward that goal.
There are still fundraising events coming up before the game – the group has a Facebook page with player stories and updates on upcoming events. Volz said between 100 and 200 people come out each year to the event.
Tori Richmond, who has been participating in the event for the last four years, said thanks to events like the RivALZ game, there’s more awareness of Alzheimer’s.
“My grandmother started showing signs of Alzheimer’s about two years before she was officially diagnosed,” she said. “If my family would have had more awareness about what the signs are, personality changes, I think we could have helped her out a lot more.
“Just learning more about it and being able to educate other people about it and (show) how far we’ve come in terms of Alzheimer’s awareness and research.”
Richmond, a former Florida State swimmer who plays for the Brunettes squad, said the event is for anybody who wants to player. She has personal experience with Alzheimer’s, that’s not the case for every member of the team.
Plus, not every member of the team is a former college athlete.
“We practice so much that ultimately, you will see an improvement,” she said. “Last year, one of our teammates came out having never played a lot of football. She was probably one of our most dedicated players. She came to every practice and she ended up catching an interception in the game.”
Richmond said playing in the game and meeting the women involved has given her a different perspective on Alzheimer’s and its impact in Tallahassee.
“I look forward to this every year,” she said. “Every year we start earlier and earlier. It’s a social thing, as well as just doing something for the community and learning more about the community. All of the women are leaders in this community.”
For more information, visit bvbtallahassee.org.