FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Calling all Rochester Ladies
By Brandy White Whitbourne | Photo by Zoe Gemelli
Are you in the mood to get your hands dirty and/or sweaty?
Ready to get competitive?
Want to bring out your alter ego?
Brace yourself for one of Rochester’s most fun and exciting ways of raising money for local non-profits: Rochester B.R.A.W.L.
Cheryl Ernst, Grace Ravines and Kristin Withall teamed together to create a theatrically-influenced, lady arm-wrestling league in efforts to creatively raise financial support and increase public awareness for strong causes in the Greater Rochester area.
Standing for “Broads Regional Arm Wrestling League,” the philanthropic wrestling group is part of “CLAW: The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers (http://www.clawusa.org/).”
B.R.A.W.L. debuted in its first match in January 2012 at “The Bug Jar,” where local bands and DJ’s were being featured in accompaniment of the various female-based arm-wrestling matches and raffles. Quickly outgrowing the space, they moved the matches over to Skylark Lounge where viewers can get a drink, get pumped up with entourage’s extreme energy, view and “bet” on the matches taking place or get a picture taken at the photo booth, provided by photographer Whitney Warne.
If competition runs in your blood, feel free to get on stage (after signing up on the website ahead of time) and show the audience how it’s done! Bring friends and family so they can be your escorts, working the crowd, making spectators want to put their money where your mouth is. As much fun as that sounds, the trio turns it up a notch and makes each competitor create and play out their own character (they ask that costumes be kept G to PG-13 Rated), or alter ego, if you will.
Men are allowed to join in on the festivities as a spectator or as a part of the entourage only.
There are characters such as “Erin Go-Bra,” who is proud of her heritage and is two-time winner as well as the defending champion. There is also “Buckeye,” the (Ohio State Fan), “Bloody Mary” (the nurse by the name of Mary), “PsychaDaley” (the hippie), “Professor of Pain” (the teacher), “Baby Shark” (the daughter of JAWS), “Malicious” (the motorcyclist), “Rock Sinclair “the bro” and “AMadder Curie” (the chemist).
“I love seeing what the women come up with for their personas,” said Withall, the designer. “You have no idea what they’re going to be until they get on stage. It’s a lot of fun.”
“Ravines, the Master of Ceremony,” says that regardless of strength, they want anyone who is genuinely interested to be involved.
To keep the events even more interesting, the trio decided that the winner of the event is not the competitor who wins the arm wrestling matches, but rather the one who can raise the most money. “Last event, we gave a custom made B.R.A.W.L. gold sprayed shake weight,” said Ravine. Grinning from ear-to-ear, the trio explained that it’s a funny motivator to “keep trying” and that “practice makes perfect.” They try to do a special prize for the actual winner.
The events raise about $1,000, which goes to local non-profits and charitable organizations such as Girls Rock Camp, Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, Bivona Child Advocacy Center and Alternatives for Battered Women. “We choose a different charity each time and donate to them,” said Ernst, the referee.
“The most exciting part for me is when I get to hand the representative from the organization the money,” said Ravines.
Hoping one day to have dedicated arm wrestlers and a bigger audience, B.R.A.W.L. hopes to make Rochester its grassroots and continue to grow.
“I really enjoy the relationships built by each wrestler,” said Ernst. “It’s not just about the things we can see, but the support for each other.”
Women in the area can get involved by visiting their website at www.rochesterbrawl.wordpress.com. There is an online application to fill out if women would like to show off their wild side. They can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.