We here at Derby Central were at least as moved as you were by the story of Hot Wheels, who joined the incredible skaters of Billings, Montana, in her debut jam after a tragic diagnosis. Moved, but also inspired. Inspired to make something extra special happen for her. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
One of the other things that struck me while reading about Hot Wheels (or Lisa Graham as her family better knows her) was that she had first fallen in love with roller derby through an incarnation she’d met many years ago.
You’ll recall, no doubt, from the article that we ran last year about how the Magic City Rollers rallied to support the dreams of a local with not much time and a derby dream. They made those dreams come true with a bout she’s likely to always remember, when she became the lead jammer in their demo jam at the beginning of the game, and also included her in all the promotional materials for the bout.
Well, there’s a few more details that particularly caught my attention when I read through that story submission, and one of those was that her inspirational derby moment hit very close to home – literally.
Let me explain. You’ll remember that the narrative included this detail: “Lisa’s first experience with derby was in 1988. She went to LA and watched bank-track live. She still has that bout ticket, with the team’s signatures, in her wallet”.
“Lisa’s first experience with derby was in 1988. She went to LA and watched bank-track live. She still has that bout ticket, with the team’s signatures, in her wallet”.
And… you guessed it. I happen to live in Los Angeles, only a few short blocks from the home of the LA Derby Dolls, the current local banked-track league. So I immediately reached out to them, via the incredible StefCon 1, and we rapidly came up with a plan.
StefCon is a long time skater for LADD, currently on their travel team, the LA Ri-Ettes, and tirelessly works behind the scenes coaching and running events for them like the recently-cancelled March Radness (but more on that story later). As well as being that many kinds of awesome, Stef was magically motivated enough by this story to hurry back to conspire with her fellow Derby Dolls, and with the might of the whole league behind her, she quickly got back in touch to relay the good news: She was going to be able to organise and gift me a signed t-shirt for Hot Wheels, not only from the league, but from every team they have, including their refs!
At this point, not only was I dumbfounded at the league’s generosity, I knew this was going to be especially perfect, because I had just discovered that my New Year’s plans involved going through Billings in person. I couldn’t believe the surprise we were about to be able to spring on Hot Wheels.
Only one thing could possibly make this plan more perfect, and I knew what it was – I got in touch with another local friend. I asked former Angel City charter team skater, and regular roller derby coach, B-Train at Wicked Skatewear, what we could do about personalizing those t-shirts. And to my delight, she didn’t just personally come through on seeing that every shirt got ‘Hot Wheels’ emblazoned in huge letters on it, she wouldn’t accept a dime, donating her services in the name of an amazing derby surprise.
With those five shirts now clutched tightly in my hot hands, I was beyond excited to be able to meet Hot Wheels, and Blake Eden, the writer of the article that first alerted us to Hot Wheels’ story. We’d now been chatting via email with increasing anticipation, and I couldn’t wait to be able to see this through in person.
With those five shirts now clutched tightly in my hot hands, I was beyond excited to be able to meet Hot Wheels
But it wasn’t to be. After two consecutive days of my flights being cancelled due to weather conditions in Montana (apparently it snows there, everyone), I found myself taking those shirts and dejectedly beating a path to a local post office, instead of Billings itself. You can’t imagine my disappointment – I thought I would no longer be able to share this surprise with the derby community after all our collective efforts!
But Blake was an absolute saving grace, not only fielding the repeat changes of plans I had to convey to her with charm and flexibility, even in the face of the demands of the holiday season, she delivered the shirts herself!
So without further ado, I give you my stand-out favorite image that Blake passed on to us of the shirt exchange. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to get those grins out of my mind for some time.
LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE