Powderpuff fund-raiser a crowd pleaser

HOUSTON With sunny skies and temperatures well into the 90s on Saturday, the third annual Blondes vs. Brunettes powderpuff football game featured a competitive but friendly contest benefiting the Alzheimer's Association Houston and Southeast Texas Chapter.

The two teams with 30-player rosters appeared not take hair color too seriously, if the images from the abc13.com slideshow was any indication. One thing was for certain: These women can play.

About 200 spectators seated under trees at St. John's School's Scotty Caven Field got a chance to see seven-on-seven female flag football, with all-male coaching staffs scripting the plays. Even the game's public address announcer, James Sivco, recognized the contrast in both teams' approaches to the game.

"The Brunettes' coach is a gunslinger. He was installing plays on the very first practice. The Blondes' coach is very methodical," said Sivco, who called the game with KRBE-FM 104.1 radio personality Roula Christie.

The first half was mainly a defensive battle, though in the closing minutes the Blondes were able to drive deep into Brunette territory. On fourth down, Cumming threw what appeared to be a touchdown pass to Marit Babin, only to find the receiver was ruled down a yard short of the goal line.

At halftime, referee Steve Kolos explained the call.

"I was in a position to make the call but the line judge had a better a better view on it. I saw the flag get pulled. I just had to ask him where the spot was," Kolos said.

By halftime, the game had raised more than $80,000, said Kate Allen Stukenberg, a Brunettes player who is one of the event's organizers and a board member of the Alzheimer's Houston chapter. That exceeds the $28,000 that was raised the previous year and the $3,000 the year before that.

"Both my grandmother passed away from (Alzheimer's) in 1990 and my father actually passed away last Saturday. He was on the board of the Alzheimer's Association and my mother was very involved."

Stukenberg was pragmatic about the fight against the disease.

"There are some things you can do, but this is not a disease that you could win right now. And so, I felt like I had to do something. So I got together with a couple of girlfriends who both felt the effects of Alzheimer's, and we started this game," said Stukenberg, who dedicated Saturday's game to her father, Joe Allen.

The game's halftime period was extended so that players and fans could beat the heat, along with a little extra socializing. When football action resumed, the Blondes went on to win 19-13, wresting bragging rights from the Brunettes, who won 42-6 the previous year.

Regardless of outcome, from players to refs to fans, all eyes prized the commitment to the cause that left no one at a loss.

For more information about the Alzheimer's Association, go to www.alztex.org.

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