“We want to bring more attention to communities that need it most, and there is stigma around Alzheimer’s and dementia that needs to be eradicated,” said K Walker, aka Sirr Gotcha. Because of this stigma, K and his team have decided to skate for Alzheimer’s awareness — roller skate, that is.
On April 13, 2019, Northwest Derby Company will be collecting donations at the door for a reduced ticket price to their bout against Rodeo City Roller Girls from Ellensburg, WA. All proceeds will go to their Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, fueling the Alzheimer’s Association’s care, support and research programs.
Northwest Derby Company is based out of Bremerton, WA. They are the only adult flat track roller derby team in Kitsap County. “Our league has always felt special because we have made it our mission to provide an environment that is open and inclusive to all genders and skating levels. We love the sport so much and we believe you can train and skate hard while also having fun,” said K.
The team learned about the Alzheimer’s Association when one of their members attended a community forum event and saw the need to bring more concern and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease to the Kitsap County area. Members of the team have personal connections to the disease as well.
“My grandmother had Alzheimer’s. She passed away in September of 2018,” said Izzy Lotz, aka Joan of Snark. “The odd part about the progression of her disease, and I think the scariest part of the whole thing, was just how quickly it progressed. It surfaced after my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, first just forgetting names or medication times. My family was so focused on his condition, it wasn’t obvious to us what was happening to my grandmother,” she recalls.
“My grandfather took a turn for the worst, it seemed like she did as well. In very short time she was going from serving us donuts that were well past their date to completely forgetting who my grandfather was. She was a wonderful, strong, matriarchal figure in our family. We make sure that her disease was not what defined her life.”
This is not the first time Northwest Derby Company has partnered with nonprofits.
“At every game, we host another group that we feel is important to our community. This is why roller derby and Northwest Derby Company in particular, is so unique: it’s not just about the sport but growth, support and pride in individuals and our community,” said K. He also has a connection to dementia.
“Both of my grandmothers on my mom’s side were diagnosed with dementia — one with moderate dementia before she passed away a few years ago, and the other with late-onset Alzheimer’s. Dementia and Alzheimer’s have been common names in my household because of this, and possibly one of the reasons I ended up in the field that I did.”
K currently works in aging and long-term care where many of his clients have various forms of dementia. He also previously worked at an adult day health center with the dementia group where, he said “every day was an adventure.”
“It’s hard to imagine my life without being involved with folks living with this disease, but with enough awareness, education, and research, hopefully someday I won’t have to,” said K.
The April 13 bout will be at Skateland in Bremerton. Doors open at 5:30 and the first game starts at 6:00 against Rodeo City Roller Girls from Ellensburg. It is a double header and the second game will be against Air Raid Roller Girls from Washington County, OR. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 with donation. These are family-friendly events and the team encourages folks to bring their own chair to get track-side seating. There will also be an after party held at Our Place Pub and Eatery in Silverdale, where people can meet the team personally off the track, order skater-themed cocktails and enjoy karaoke.
Can’t make it to the bout, but still want to contribute? Make a donation to the Northwest Derby Company’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s team.
Interested in starting a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team of your own? The Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter hosts 16 Walk to End Alzheimer’s events across Washington State and northern Idaho. Click here for a list of dates and locations near you!