These women are used to battles. It's a way of life for the warrior-skaters of Indy's own Naptown Roller Girls. Think of them as Amazons, but on wheels.
This February, however, the girls are hanging up their skates for a battle of a different kind: against breast cancer.
The girls, along with the nonprofit organization Breast Impressions Inc., decided to bring a fund raiser to town. The event is titled "Bust"ing Out Against Breast Cancer and involves making plaster casts of the Roller Girls' chests. These "busts" were then sent out to local Indianapolis artists who painted the plaster casts.
"Each artist was told to be as creative as they wished, as long as it stayed family-friendly," said Deanna Burns, aka 4Leaf Cleaver, a blocker on the track and co-chair of the charity committee for the team. "I am amazed at the beauty that has been brought back on the once blank busts. I can't wait for everyone else to see them."
Breast Impressions Inc. is an organization created specifically to make plaster busts for women facing breast cancer. The idea is that in case a mastectomy would be necessary, the woman would have a piece of artwork to celebrate and remember the way her body once was. The organization quickly grew into a fund raising agent for other organizations, including roller derby teams.
Now finished, the bosoms will be on display during the First Friday event at the Big Car Gallery in Fountain Square Feb. 6. The plasticized torsos will be in a silent auction throughout the night to determine a set price for the casts.
"This will be our starting price for the live auction at the bout [a bout is a roller derby match] on Feb. 14. If no one tops the bid given at the silent auction, then that bidder takes home the prize. However, the only way to guarantee you have the winning bid is to make sure you are at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on the 14th," Cleaver said.
Callie Powers, or, as she is known on the rink, Sweet C, is on the board of directors and is the financial officer for the Roller Girls. She also had the opportunity to paint one of her teammates' bronzed busts.
"It's very superhero," she said about her blue and gold painted corset of teammate Shadi Layne. "I'm always impressed by her; she's an amazing skater, an amazing player, a mom, she balances all this stuff so I think of her as a superhero. I wanted the bust to reflect that."
Shadi Layne, known to her family as Jennifer Wright, is the mother of three and an avid skater. She also has a more personal reason for being involved with this event.
"I lost my mother-in-law back in June. She had breast cancer that came back in her spinal fluid, so it was close to my heart to do this so I'm hoping we get a good showing and that we get a good amount of money for the charity."
"Many NRG teammates have been touched by this disease through loved ones," Cleaver said. "My life was touched by breast cancer in 2003 when my mother was diagnosed. She beat it, and I couldn't be more thankful. Our hope is that NRG can help save many lives with the research funded from the money raised during this event."
The money raised through both the auction and at the after party hosted by the Roller Girls will go to the Young Survivor's Coalition, a national organization with a local group here in Indy. The group helps educate young women and provides support to those currently battling breast cancer.
"On the lighter side, this is a fun event. Not only will the winning bidders be funding a great cause, but they will walk away with a great piece of roller derby memorabilia and the amazing artwork of a local artist."
One such local artist, Jeffrey Jones, owner of Studio 7000, a hair salon in Eagle Creek, painted the bodice of skater Ivanna B. Naughty. He took inspiration from both local landmarks and other, older paintings.
"What I wanted to do was the circle," Jones said. But as he was looking for images online he found an image of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night." So he combined the two ideas.
"The hardest thing to do was making things not land on the nipples," Jones said, "especially with all the stars."
The blue bustier is dotted with swirling yellow and white stars, with the Soldiers & Sailors Monument replacing one of the trees. There are girls on skates and a banner also added to the infamous image.
Jones has been a fan of the Roller Girls since early on and was eager to help the organization.
"Two and a half years ago I was challenged to go see a meet and now I am hooked."
Other artists who worked on these chiseled chests include Rebecca Henss, Beth Campbell, Brad Dawson, Christi Wallace, Barbara Mangus-Hopkins, Kipp Normand, Cory Shutters, Laura Ganter, Aimee Leech-Cart, Becca White and Rosa Dies. All of the busts were painted free of charge to help support the Roller Girls' cause.
According to 4Leaf Cleaver, the Young Survivor's Coalition is not the only charity the Naptown Roller Girls support. In fact, for the relatively small size of the team, they are incredibly active in their community.
"We have been involved with numerous charity events and/or made financial contributions to organizations including the Damien Center, the American Heart Association, the Southside Animal Shelter and Girls Inc. just to name a few. We like to be involved with local groups, as well as national organizations that work to improve the lives of women."
Sweet C agreed, saying that it is the community that is so important to the girls.
"We want to give back to the community and we want the community to embrace us. We have a great fan base and we want to give back."
To find out more about the Naptown Roller Girls, go to their Web site, www.naptownrollergirls.com, and be sure to see their next bout, where all the busts will be on display, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Feb. 14. If you wish to make a donation to Breast Impressions or Young Survivor's Coalition, visit their Web sites, www.breastimpressions.com/index.htm and www.youngsurvival.org/indianapolis respectively.