Derby Thighs Save Lives

by Wendi Kent

Supporting: Madison Roller Derby Venue Fund for Mad Rollin' Dolls, Inc.



I discovered skating in 2016. Here's what you need to know:

I finally went to a sampler (where you can learn a bit about the league and what practices are like) after thinking about skating and finally being talked into it by friends. I magically stood up with some wheels on my feet. I honestly didn’t do anything but stand up and fall down. I am pretty sure there wasn’t much rolling going on then. I hurt the [email protected]#$ out of my tailbone. Again and again. *I was on the floor more than anyone else. I was fairly sure there were some seasoned skaters were wondering what the [email protected]#$ I was doing there, but I somehow knew I had a lot to lose if I gave up. That may sound melodramatic but when overwhelmed with mental illness and severe emotional distress, lots of things can feel like, or be, life or death. 

(*Now, of course, I know no experienced skaters are thinking shit like that about newcomers.)

I signed up, went to a meeting, and all the sudden, I was looking around and realizing that not only was I rolling around on roller skates, but I was rolling around with some of the funniest, strongest, most beautiful humans I’ve ever been around. Then I realized, this is what a “safe space” is.

I was carefree for an hour and a half of my life twice a week now. I was sore, I was laughing, I was making a fool of myself, I was doing scary things, I was meeting people I’d never meet otherwise, but the most important thing I was doing was for the first time in my life, I was obsessing over something that was actually good for me. Never have I done this. *Never. I realized, ‘this is why my derby friends never fucking shut up about it’. 

Fast forward and I am still struggling to learn and progress as quickly as others, but I am also still living to skate. To be around my skating family. Back then, the idea of me doing things that I am able to do now, was laughable. 

“Roller derby saved my soul.”   

something you might hear come out of our mouths but I can tell you, for a lot of us, it’s saved our lives too. 

So while I can completely understand not being interested in the game of roller derby, (o.k. not really because it's awesome) I think you can still be capable of being grateful for it. I try to imagine what my life would be like if I had discovered this joy long ago. 

I’d like for you to think about this and how incredible it is that a thing like this exists for the people who need it. You’re not supporting just a sport. You are supporting queer and trans and non-binary folks who need community. You are supporting mothers, students, doctors, teachers, those with disabilities and social anxiety, and our self care. 

So, with all of that, yes, I’m going to ask you for money.
And no, I’m not sorry. Because it will save a soul. And maybe a life too. 


From our GM-

*Our league, Madison Roller Derby, is trying to raise $750,000 for a new practice space/venue. 

Over the past 14 years, we moved from practicing and playing at a small skate rink to playing at a coliseum. Unfortunately, our growth has stopped short due to constraints on space and accessibility, and the future of our practice space is in question.” It is falling apart and one day we may wake up with nowhere to practice. 

“We've done our research, we're making plans, and we're ready to establish Madison's first dedicated Roller Derby facility.

With our own facility, we can host more games for fans, invite other leagues (which helps our local economy!), launch a Junior training program, and support more local organizations.”


(Yes! We donate to local charities! We are basically like the Girl Scouts. But with bruises. And in fishnets. And we hit people.) 

Win-win-win for everyone.

I have 613 contacts on Facebook. I’m going to say only half pay any attention to me, if that.

300 people giving $10 will get me to my personal goal. 

TEN DOLLARS. To support something that has changed my life. And we will continue to do the same for others who need this. Please help us secure success for at least another 14 years. 

Thanks to all of your support, we have built a lasting legacy of roller derby in Madison.  Over the past 18 years, we moved from rope lights at Fast Forward Skate Center to hosting (and skating in!) WFTDA playoffs at Alliant Energy Center's Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  Unfortunately, our growth has stopped short  due to constraints on space and accessibility, and our current practice space is slated for demolition and redevelopment within the next 6 months.  We need your help to raise enough money to keep skating in a new space in Madison. 

With our own facility, we can bring our fans more roller derby games and events, relaunch a Junior training program, and support more local organizations. Most importantly, we can keep skating in Madison!  Win-win-win for everyone. 

Our success over the past 18 years has been based in grassroots growth -- and we will maintain this grassroots philosophy even in our fundraising.  To move forward, we need a minimum of $600,000 to secure commercial funding and secure a facility for the foreseeable future.  Additional needs include $150,000 to secure comfortable seating for our fans to watch our games.


We believe we can accomplish this through a combination of traditional single donations plus a sustaining donor system.  

  • If you can't give $100 to help us out today, can you sign up for $10/month, auto-deducted from your bank or a card?
  • If you can't donate $500, can you pledge $50/month instead?
  • If your business can't contribute $2,000 today, perhaps you can sign on for $200 per month instead

    Sustainable giving is a great way to help more, even if you can't give big donations right now, and we are a non-profit, so every dollar is fully tax deductible!  

No amount is too small (or too large!).  The key to our success will be a grassroots aggregate of regular, sustained giving as we finalize the plans and find a location.  Each donation is a rock of gravel that builds the foundation for a facility. 


Once we have secured a venue and it is self sustaining through events and ticket sales, your donations will then support a comprehensive, competitive Junior program, followed by a scholarship program.  Over time, additional donations will be directed toward improving our fan experience with things like better lighting and sound, and more events and activities.

With that, I would like to ask you to please sign on now to donate any amount you are able. Please invite your friends and family to do the same, and share our news as far and wide as you can.  We want everyone to feel empowered to support us, so feel free to choose a preset amount or enter $1 or whatever you can give in the box on the donate screen.  Every bit helps.

Thank you for your endless support and love!

Wendy Wilbur AKA. Allie Gator
Executive Director
Madison Roller Derby

About Us: 
As a local 501(c)(3) organization,  Madison’s premier roller derby league, and one of the founding leagues of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Assosication (WFTDA), MRD has paved the way for hundreds of other leagues across the country and around the globe. We’ve grown from four home teams to include two travel teams (Dairyland Dolls all-stars and Team Unicorn ). We hosted the 2016 WFTDA Playoffs, created a recreational roller derby team (Wreckers Madison Roller Derby), and all while maintaining our dedication to our community through countless hours of outreach with over a hundred local organizations.  


It is the mission of Mad Rollin’ Dolls, Inc. to provide a safe, inclusionary space to foster the development of a competitive women’s flat track roller derby athletic program, build leadership skills through volunteer opportunities, and make a positive impact in our community by serving as role models for our peers and future generations.

For more information on our capital campaign, please visit: 


How would you like to support?