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    Posted October 11, 2015 by
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    Woman competes in Roller Derby despite MS diagnosis

    She’s an elementary school art teacher by day and a fear inducing roller derby goddess by night.

    Valeri Borstelmann a.k.a GiGi Ramoan from Bradenton, FL straps on her skates, helmet and a myriad of safety pads on a Saturday afternoon along with her all female “bruise crew”.

    GiGi started the Bradentucky Bombers in 2006 after being exposed to roller derby through a documentary and then in person while in Tampa. Since then it has grown into a solid team of diverse women with intimidating nicknames to match.

    Borstelmann’s alter ego “Gigi Ramoan” was inspired from her past life as a punk rock bassist where she covered songs by none other than “The Ramones”.

    Roller derby is a full contact sport filled with falls and fights. The rules of the game are fairly simple. Each time has five skaters in the rink at all times. One player is called “The Jammer” who is in charge of scoring points and wears a distinctive star on their helmet. There are three “Blockers” who try to keep the other team at bay and one “Pivot” who is the leader much like the “Coxswain” is to Crew. The goal is to get your own Jammer through the other team’s Blockers and vice versa.

    GiGi has played all these roles at some time or another. She also plays the role of mother, wife, and patient.

    “I have Multiple Sclerosis and I was diagnosed after I started derby so I’m just trying to figure out what my limitations were and how to work with my symptoms and how to conquer my symptoms,” said Borstelmann.

    Pain, numbness and overheating are just some of the things she experiences while out in the rink. Some MS patients even lose the ability to walk. But Gigi has a sense of humor about it all.

    “I have heat issues and sleep issues and my hands numb but it works out if someone rolls over my fingers i can’t feel it,” said Borstelmann.

    GiGi says she was involved for derby for four years before her diagnosis but getting involved in the sport may have saved her life.

    “With anybody who has health conditions you have to keep your body intune. You have to stay in shape, you have to eat well, exercise, drink a lot of water and that’s just... I wouldn’t do it without derby, honestly. So it actually got me prepared and able to deal with having MS,” said Borstelmann.

    Gigi says her favorite part of the sport is the women she has met over the years and the friendships that have formed outside of the rink.

    “Another part of derby that I really love is just the camerade of people of the women on the team. How much we get along together and you know there is so many different people from all different walks of life. All different day jobs, all different personalities and we have one thing in common at least and that’s that we love derby,” said Borstelmann.

    A huge milestone is quickly approaching Gigi this year: a decade in derby which has been a goal of her’s from the start.

    It appears she will achieve it one lap at a time.
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