The women of the Brookings Pink Ladies group each donate $10 to compete against one another in games of dart-throwing each Monday night.
Though it is only $10 per player, this money has reached an estimated total of $12,900. The money from this fund, combined with other fundraising efforts like raffles and bake sales, has benefitted eight local cancer patients so far.
The group was started in 2014 and now has about two dozen women competing in games of darts at Brookings bars and pubs each week. The group also meets formally every month to discuss other fundraising opportunities for their local beneficiaries.
One of the beneficiaries of the group, Kristi Houtman, was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in October 2013.
“It was a great blessing to have these women reach out to me,” said Houtman. “The funds had helped greatly in paying some of those extra medical bills and things you don’t usually plan for after I was first diagnosed.”
After undergoing chemotherapy, she has been cancer-free since May of last year.
The first Pink Ladies Dart League was formed in Yankton in 2011 as gesture to help a local woman battling breast cancer. Since then, the dart league has grown to more than 500 groups in South Dakota. There are also groups in Ohio, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Winnipeg, Canada.
“I think that the women particularly have a compassion to play darts specifically for this reason,” said Randy Oliver, found of the Yankton Pink Ladies Dart League. “They’re all working toward a common cause and they all donate what they can to further it.”
Nicki Watts, secretary of Brookings Pink Ladies, said the group provides not only an opportunity for goodwill fundraising, but also a fun activity for the women.
“Most of us actually already knew each other when we started,” Watts said. “We all had fun playing together and having a great time and so we just started doing it for a great cause, too.”
A standard dartboard is divided into 20 sections, representing points ranging from 1 to 20. Two teams, made up of two women each, play 501 darts. In this, the women begin with 501 points and must be first to reach zero to win.
Last year, Gov. Dennis Daugaard proclaimed Oct. 14 as Pink Ladies Dart League Day in South Dakota to honor their achievements in Sioux Falls. The Brookings chapter plans to attend the fifth annual Pink Ladies State Dart Tournament in Brookings later this year.
The group has a closed Facebook group and interested parties can request to join. Members meet on the first Monday of every month at the Wild Hare at 6 p.m. to discuss league issues and planning.
Update: The location of the 2017 Pink Ladies State Dart Tournament is in Brookings later this year. 4/30/17