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A smashing good cause

A crowd with a cause: Derbying For A Cure T-shirts were everywhere at some area demo derbies last summer. Submitted photo1 / 5
Jennifer Hamre, left, of Lake Park, and Sarah Lynn, Richville, sold pink wristbands at a derby in Frazee earlier this summer. Submitted photo2 / 5
A pink car 'derbies for a cure.' Submitted photo3 / 5
The group has been selling pink wristbands at area derbies. They plan to sell T-shirts at the Otter Fest derby. Submitted photo4 / 5
The group's 2012 logo.5 / 5

Demo derby drivers don't usually 'think pink' when it comes to their car color.

Black, white, red, blue - sure. But pink?

Well, thanks to the 2nd Annual Derbying For A Cure, pink will be the 'it' color at this year's Otter Fest Demo Derby. The track will be a sea of hot pink cars this Friday night, as more than a dozen racers rev up for a cause.

Jessica Solberg-Zacharias, a leading organizer with Derbying For A Cure, said the idea just came naturally. She and a few friends were hanging out in the shop behind her house in Richville one night, and decided that, "instead of just wrecking cars all the time, maybe it'd be good to do something good with them."

Everyone in that group was a long-time demo derby fan, and they all knew, or had once known, someone deeply affected by cancer. So, they all easily agreed to join in the fight against it. 

Plus, Zacharias added, "the guys think it's cool because they can paint their cars pink for one day."

Then, without fail, the cars "get repainted black or something the next day."

At their first-ever derby, in Henning last year, Derbying For A Cure raised money for a local woman who was participating in a breast cancer fundraising walk. This year, all proceeds will go to a local family (which wishes to remain anonymous) for cancer-related costs.

To raise funds, the group sells pink bracelets at derbies around the area, as well as T-shirts. Last year, they sold out of everything. They hope to do the same this year.

Already this summer, Zacharias's daughter, Sarah Lynn, and other "derby girls" have been selling bracelets at derbies in Frazee. They plan to sell T-shirts during the Otter Fest Demo Derby.

"A bunch of people who've been out of the sport are coming back for this," said Zacharias of the Otter Fest derby, "and people from the Cities are coming to watch. It'll be fun."

Derbying For A Cure also finds sponsors to help contribute to the cause. This year, Zacharias said, there are more than 30 sponsors - enough for two to three per participating car. 

While the theme centers around breast cancer, Derbying For A Cure does not limit its fundraising efforts to breast cancer alone. So far, the group has decided who to raise money for simply by hearing of a friend or family member in need - and that could include anyone struggling with any type of cancer or cancer-related illness.

The Otter Fest Demo Derby is put on by the Ottertail Rod and Gun Cub, and will include plenty of cars in addition to the pink ones with Derbying For A Cure.

Club member John Carlson said this will be the 20th year of the derbies at Otter Fest. There are usually between 50-70 cars that take part, and last year's Derbying For A Cure "brought a lot of cars into our annual demo derby... and we appreciate that. Anything we can do to help them out."

The derby will start at 7 p.m. at the track south of the Ottertail water tower on Highway 108.

In the end, Zacharias said, it's all about trying to help others, because Derbying For A Cure, "might make a difference for somebody."

Well, "that and it gives us something to look forward to."

For more information, contact Zacharias at 218-298-0340.

See the story on Otter Fest for a list of events going on this weekend.