- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - A local gesture to help a woman battling breast cancer has grown into a multi-state network of support. Pink Ladies Dart Leagues have been popping up across the state for the last four years - even making their way to other states and, recently, Canada.

Pink Ladies President Cunningham said the group traces its roots back to Yankton.

“One of the girls in our actual dart league that we throw Thursday nights - her sister was fighting breast cancer,” Cunningham told the Daily Press & Dakotan newspaper (https://bit.ly/1wr9HIn ). “We were talking and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be kind of cool just to be able to do something more for the people in our community who have cancer?’ It just kind of started from there.”

The group became its own nonprofit and has sought to raise money to help families dealing with cancer pay some of their expenses.

“We can’t pay their medical bills by no means, but we can make a difference,” Cunningham said. “A $500 donation goes a long ways for some of these families that have to travel.”

Each chapter limits itself to about a 30-mile radius around their respective communities. Today, the Pink Ladies boast more than 40 leagues, most in South Dakota. Earlier this month, the second annual Pink Ladies Dart League State Tournament was held in Sioux Falls.

But the Pink Ladies haven’t stopped at the borders of South Dakota.

Yankton league coordinator Randy Oliver said a speech helped get the ball rolling on efforts to expand the Pink Ladies.

“I went to a NDA (National Darts Association) league summit and they asked me to give a speech about Pink Ladies,” he said. “After that, Ohio is getting started next week, Wisconsin is working on it and Winnipeg, Canada, got theirs started three weeks ago.”

Ainsworth, Nebraska, also has a league.

Oliver estimated there are more than 800 women across South Dakota playing in Pink Ladies leagues.

While the color pink has become synonymous with breast cancer through the years, Cunningham stressed the organization helps families that are dealing with all types of cancer.

“It’s not just about the pink - it’s about all forms of cancer, and man, woman and child,” she said.

Cunningham said it has been a great experience for everyone involved.

“It’s very powerful to be a part of it,” she said. “To see a family that knows their child is fighting the fight of their life but they know in the back of their mind that they need to pay a car payment, rent or whatever the case may be. If you can make just a little bit of a difference in their lives to relieve a little bit of that stress, it’s well worth it.”


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/

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