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Blondes Take on Brunettes in Charity Flag Football Game

By Amy Zimmer | February 24, 2011 5:31pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — Fair-haired girls of the gridiron will be showing off their football moves on Sunday to help raise money to tackle Alzheimer's disease.

The Alzheimer's Association's New York City chapter is holding its final tryouts at the Upper East Side's Asphalt Green for "Team Blonde" in the city's first Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football game on May 21 at the Octagon field on Roosevelt Island.

Twenty-five of these athletic young professionals will face their raven-haired foes. Redheads and other hair colors sported by the eligible participants — women in their 20s and 30s – are free agents who can play for the team of their choice.

New York University business school student Hili Banjo kick-started the event here after having played in a similar game for the last two years in Washington, D.C., where the first female charity fundraiser for Alzheimer's was held in 2005 before spreading across the country.

"My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's before he died, so it was a cause that meant a lot to me," said Banjo, 29, about how she got involved. "I'm from Texas, so I love football."

Women must raise at least $350 in donations in order to play. More than 120 women signed up for the event, though only 50 will make the cut for the game, including the top 10 fundraisers on each team by draft day on March 6. (The rest can still participate in practices and be cheerleaders.)

The chapter has already raised more than $55,000 — and it hasn't even sold tickets for the game yet, or had team fundraising events.

Banjo is optimistic the game will surpass D.C.'s record of raising $120,000.

The number of participants "rivals what D.C. is doing now after six years of having the game," she said. "It's amazing in our first year out we've been able to get so much buzz."

The competition on the field and on the fundraising circuit gets "feisty," Banjo admitted. But it's all for a good cause: "The main thing is we're a group of talented professionals trying to raise awareness and do what we can to make an impact."