Roller derby team rallies around teammate

Published: May. 31, 2011 at 9:44 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – They are tough competitors.

"We're trying to move up in the rankings so hopefully one day we can go to regional's," said the Punishers Co-Captain "Scarriett Tubman".

Yes Virginia, real women dare to derby.

"100-200lbs coming at you with velocity. It used to be about brute force now its strategy, its athleticism," Scarriett Tubman said.

The River City Rollergirls, one league, two teams: "Poe's Punishers" and the "Uncivil Warriors". Dozens of women, 18 and up, from all walks of life.

"Whether a waitress or lawyer, we're all doing the exact same thing a sport we love," said Scarriett Tubman.

The league gives time and money to lots of charities. They've been going all out selling t-shirts for the "Save the Brain Charity Fund" to benefit their former star speed skater and scorer, Michelle Lyon aka "Pirate Killings".

"She was a jammer, very good, very talented jammer," said Orangyna.

I recently met with some of the derby daredevils at Willow Lawn.

"I'm 'Orangyna', I go by Orange typically. I've been with the team since 2006."
"I'm 'Maliciously Delicious.'"

And two newbies:

Kristina: "I'm fresh meat, unfortunately I don't have a name yet, I'm working on it."
Cassidy Vanbeek: "I'm actually 'Fresh Meat'".

They told me about the February game where their Pirate was laid flat.

Orangyna: "It was actually in the middle of the bout she came off the track and had her seizure. They took her up to MCV so we were just hoping she was okay."
Cassidy: "They found out later she has something called a brain AVM, right now I know she's taking anti seizure medicine and she's not allowed to skate anymore. The main reason I want to nominate her, she's so always really happy, always helpful, no matter what she's always smiling."
Sabrina: "Here's $100, $200, $300"

We set out to surprise Michelle at her job.

"She doesn't know anything about it," Cassidy said.

Upon arrival at K-2 Teamworks, we learn our Pirate has pulled anchor.

"We just missed her. She went to a doctor's appointment."

Michelle's boss wrangles her back, but may have spilled the beans. We wait it out and finally…

Cassidy: "Here she is."
Michelle: "Hello."

Michelle is first.

Michelle: "Oh my God."    
Sabrina: "Hello!"
Cassidy: "So I nominated you for NBC12 Acts of Kindness."
Michelle:  "Really, I mean I didn't do…"
Cassidy: "I contacted them and they gave me $300 to give to you."
Michelle: "I can't even find the words to say how much this means. (Crying) You getting a good shot, the money shot."

Michelle says money's been scarce; the bills had been piling up.

"I didn't have health insurance when it happened," she said.

Her seizure she says was the result of a birth defect she never knew about.

"It's called an AVM, it's like a vascular malformation," said Michelle. "It's getting to the point where it's starting to hit nerve."

Michelle explains she'll need 2 to 3 years of radiation since surgery is no longer an option.

"It's too large for that and it's too deep," she explained.

She's thankful for some good news.

"I was lucky enough and I do want to say this on camera, to get PCIP insurance from the government which was included in the health care bill that Obama passed," Michelle said.

She now has insurance for her pre existing condition. Her t-shirt sales are going strong.

"I've already had to make a second batch," she said.

And her support system of friends, colleagues and teammates could not be stronger.

"Thank you so much," said Michelle.

This is the shirt which Michelle actually designed.  Just click here to view the "Save the Brain Charity Fund" website. And if there's an organization or individual you know deserves an Act of Kindness, no relatives, e-mail me. Send your nomination to ""

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.