We’re on the road throwing darts in Avon, South Dakota. Where the women in this town are hitting the bullseye when it comes to supporting a great cause.
“The people in town here, you know, for maybe the first couple of years they didn’t quite know what we did. You know, it was, these women all get together and they throw darts, you know, what is that? But when it starts to touch them or their families, and then they, you know, we’re knocking on their doorstep. And they’re starting to realize what our organization really does,” said Christi Frank.
Christi Frank is a proud member of the Pink Ladies, a non-profit organization established back in 2011. “The organization got started in Yankton, South Dakota. It has grown to several states and Canada. Every year, we in October, we have a state Pink Ladies dart tournament in Brookings, South Dakota. And, yeah, they come from all over,” said Christi Frank. “The organization has grown so much, that I mean, it’s amazing the people that you meet along the way.”
The Avon/Dante Chapter of the Pink Ladies was established six years ago. “We started here, our chapter in 2014 after a good friend of mine Cindy Ehrisman. She was really into darts and she said, ‘You know what, this is going to be a fun thing for us to do. I think we should get started.’ ,” said Christi Frank. “We got some more ladies, and here we are.”
It has become a big deal in the Avon and Dante area. There are 32 members that get together regularly to shoot darts. Twila Lukkes, Avon’s Public Librarian, is an original member. “We got a little bit of everybody, from nurses to housewives. Retired ones,” said Twila Lukkes. “They’re just all special in their own way. No matter what it is that they do.”
Pink Ladies is a dart league focusing on mainly women, but some smaller leagues also include men. “We got a lot of people that we’ve drawn in that they said, “I don’t throw darts. That’s not me. I’m terrible. I won’t even hit the board.” And we’re like, “We don’t care. Come on in.” You know, it’s not about that,” said Christi Frank. “There’s no winners. There’s no losers. It’s just a fun night to get together. Hang out with the gals and have a good time.”
Members do have a good time, however, the organization and its people run deeper than that. In Avon, the strongest root is the memory of the chapter’s founder Cindy Ehrisman. “My president at the time, my good friend Cindy, she always was very vocal about how she felt about things. And she kind of just told us, “this is what we’re doing. We’re going to do it. This is how you’re going to do it.” And by golly, we did it,” said Christi Frank.
Cindy was driven by the Pink Ladies mission to support people and families financially and emotionally who have battled or were battling cancer. Then the unthinkable happened. “Pretty much exactly a year after Cindy became, started the chapter, became the president, she was diagnosed with colon cancer,” said Jim Toupal. “Shock to everybody. Real shock.”
Jim Toupal is the co-owner of Pour Corner in Avon, the “official headquarters of the Avon/Dante Pink Ladies. Cindy gave him his very own Pink Lady jersey. “When Cindy would throw and she would do her dance, and, and, it was a sight to see. She was a free spirit and it was fun to watch her work. The sad moments were seeing her struggle with her cancer, and still throwing her darts and fighting, and believing in her cause,” said Jim Toupal.
Cindy was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015 and passed away in 2018. Cindy’s good friend Christi, stepped up in her honor. “She made me promise to take over for her when she was gone. And I told her “No. I don’t want to do that, I can’t do that” and she said, “Oh yes you will.” And that was a famous line of hers, ‘Yes, you will.’, said Christi Frank. “She was unanimously voted in as president. She’s doing a really good job. She’s done a really good job. She steps up to the plate hard and of course, Cindy made her,” said Jim Toupal.
Thousands and thousands of dollars to help those impacted by cancer has been raised. As all of us know, the need is great. “Cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are. You have a relative, a friend, an acquaintance. Everyone knows somebody who’s battling cancer,” said Christi Frank.
Pour House co-owner and Pink Lady member Pam Toupal has witnessed the impact of the donors. “It’s men, women, children anybody that we know of, within our radius area that we donate to. And we give them gifts and money donations just to help them out. Make things easier for them,” said Pam Toupal. “It’s very touching. Knowing somebody, you know, that is dealing with cancer. A friend, or whatever, you know, and knowing how much they appreciate it.”
It is a team effort with Avon area sponsors pitching in big time. “To have somebody to sponsor you, you gotta have, you got to have a heart. You got to want to help people,” said Christi Frank. “It makes you feel good at the end of the day.” “We are small but mighty. I think we got a lot of good people in this town. Do a lot of great things,” said Twila Lukkes.
Now come on KELOLAND, every town has a dart board or two, and I know all of you are motivated to make a difference. “I don’t know what I would do without this organization. The people are great. The feeling of satisfaction that you get when you help somebody in need. There’s no better feeling in the world. Get out there and start your organization today,” said Christi Frank. If you’d like information on starting your town’s own Pink Ladies league, go to the Facebook page titled “SD Pink Ladies State Dart Tournament” or email Randy Oliver, the State Tournament Director for the Pink Ladies: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Start your chapter, have fun and make a difference for those impacted by cancer!