Every once in a while the venerable sport of Roller Derby makes a bit of a splash. Now it is coming back tied to a cause. Make ‘Em Bleed, is a partnership with The American Red Cross to use the fun off beat entertainment spectacle to draw consumers in to donate and raise awareness for blood donations at a time of year when supply can run low.
Make ‘Em Bleed roller derby blood drives have collected more than 900 units of blood over the past four years — enough to have helped to save up to 2,700 lives.
In 2017, the Make ‘Em Bleed roller derby blood drive series is part of World Roller Derby Week, Aug. 13-19, a series of events celebrating the 82nd birthday of the invention of the sport by Leo Seltzer in 1935.. Currently, almost 2000 women’s, men’s and junior leagues are skating, competing and giving back to their communities worldwide. The events will be held in venues across the country, from Woodbridge, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pa. to San Jose, California, Tampa, Florida and Chicago. The venues aren’t the massive halls of roller derby of yesteryear, the range from VFW Halls to Methodist churches, and come with all the fun of the athletes in character, ready to sign and share photos and autographs.
The sport had really fallen off the map in the past 20 years, but recently it had made an intimate comeback, especially with women who would assume the fun alter egos of their characters, don the skates and give it a try.
Will it ever return to its glory of the 1960’s and ‘70’s when roller derby graced TV on weekends and late nights and played center stage at places like the Forum and Madison Square Garden? Well it is fun, action filled content with great storytelling; it has the requisite violence quotient and more than enough athleticism, and now it has a national charity tie.
Maybe it won’t raise the funds to go more mainstream, but you have to give them credit for keeping the rink moving, building the grassroots efforts on fun and fitness, and now tying to a worthwhile cause.