It’s the age-old question. Betty or Veronica? Marilyn or Jackie?
Blonde or brunette?
That’s what a group of Washington, D.C., women will answer when they take the field to compete in the sixth annual Blondes vs. Brunettes powder-puff football game Saturday.
Their immediate aim is to score touchdowns and emerge triumphant, but their overarching goal is to tackle a much bigger issue than any one person on the field: Alzheimer’s disease.
“These teams are incredible,” event spokeswoman Judy Mayka said. “People are so incredibly busy, but they take the time to practice two or three times a week, make playbooks, sell tickets.”
The game was created in D.C. in 2005, shortly after co-founder Sara Allen Abbott’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Mayka said. Abbott felt helpless, but she wasn’t the type of person to sit back and just let things happen to her. She needed to take charge.
Co-founder Ryan Triplette said deciding what to do was a bit of a challenge. D.C. society, after all, is filled with balls and galas dedicated to various causes, with tickets costing hundreds of dollars. What could they do to make this event unique and affordable?
Then the idea came: Why not football? It was football season, after all, and there were enough of them to split into teams. Between their professional networks, they could probably raise a decent amount of money. They decided to divide the teams into blondes and brunettes. That first year, the group raised about $12,000.
Six years later, the game has grown into something more than any of the original participants had imagined. Seven other cities have Blondes vs. Brunettes games (Columbus, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.; Kansas City, Kan.; Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Chicago; Houston and Dallas), while people from cities including New York and Los Angeles are in the works of creating their own chapters. More than $1 million has been raised for the Alzheimer’s Association.
As of Wednesday, more than $77,000 has been raised this year in the D.C. area, according to the event website. The goal is to raise $125,000.
“It’s been a slow process, but it’s been amazing to watch the interest, both locally and nationally, grow,” said Triplette, a former Team Blonde captain and now event chairwoman.
The women try to keep it fun. The quotes on their team website pages exemplify that.
Team Blonde’s quote from Donatella Versace: “I love the strength of white blonde. Some people talk about having disasters coloring their hair. In my opinion, you can never have a blonde disaster.”
Team Brunette’s quip from Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam: “Brunettes are full of electricity.”
For the last five years, the brunettes have been victorious.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.