On A Roll For MS

GAYVILLE — Melissa "Sum Mo Payne" Dittberner said her feet can sometime ache after a three-hour roller derby practice.

She will be feeling more pain in her feet after she gets done with a 290-mile skate across South Dakota. However, the pain will be worth it.

Dittberner and her Sioux City Roller Dames roller derby teammates Libby "PBR" Claeys and Dani "Dubbs" Bock are making the trek as a part of Sk8 the State, which is a benefit for the Midwest States Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The group's journey will start Saturday at the South Dakota-North Dakota border, and the three roller derby players will finish in Yankton a week later. The skaters plan to wrap up their trek with an end-of-the-skate bash on Sept. 4 at Wild Bill's Bar in Gayville.

The trip may seem grueling, but it's something Dittberner has wanted to do for a while.

"I decided a long time ago that I wanted to skate across the state for a charity, and it was time to put it in motion," she said.

It also didn't take Dittberner long to find a charity to donate money to.

"One of the girls that is skating with us, her mom has MS," she said. "Plus I used to do a lot of charity stuff for MS in high school."

MS is a disease that causes a progressive hardening of the tissue surrounding the nerves, which results in a loss of sensation, movement and function throughout the body.

Dittberner said the Sk8 the State will serve not only as a charitable act, but also a reminder to people not to take their ability to move, run, walk and skate for granted.

"You can't take advantage of that, and we are happy to be functional to do something like this," she said.

The group is hoping to skate 40 to 50 miles a day, and for the last 15 miles, anyone can join them to skate it.

"By the time we hit Yankton, we are hoping there will be a gaggle of us," Dittberner said.

Raising money for charity is no new task for Dittberner and her crew. She joined the Sioux City Roller Dames because the proceeds of every match go to charity.

"I got into it because I wanted to do something for the community," she said. "Everything we do is for charity. Everyone has their own reason for doing it, and they mostly want to be a part of something."

The home opener for the Sioux City Roller Dames is in September, and the team has two matches a month — one home and one away.

Besides the proceeds from each match, the team does a lot of charity work outside of the arena.

"We do all sorts of things from garage sales, car washes and bake sales to keep things going in the community," Dittberner said.

Although the three skaters haven't even started their journey yet, the Sk8 the State has already raised more than $2,500 for the MS Society.

People who want to donate to the event can donate at any Wells Fargo Bank to the Sk8 the State Fund account.

Dittberner said the reason so much money has been raised already is because of how well the event has been organized.

"In May we started everything, and we tried to push it. We could've done better if we would've waited, but we wanted to do it this summer," she said. "Everyone is stepping up at the end and the word is getting out. It's turning out pretty well."

The group's planned Gayville bash will also be a fundraiser for the MS Society. Three bands will play at the event, and Dittberner said everyone can expect to see her there.

"I know I will make it across the state," she said. "I've been waiting for it, and it's my brain child, so I've been pushing myself to know I will make it to the end."

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