Resched­uled rally held

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY CLARENCE WIL­LIAMS AND MARTIN WEIL clarence.wil­liams@wash­post.com martin.weil@wash­post.com

Chil­dren with can­cer and their sup­port­ers held a rally Satur­day night to make up for the one that was in­ter­rupted by author­i­ties last month, and this time their only seem­ing an­tag­o­nist was the dis­ease it­self.

About 150 peo­ple came to Lafayette Park on Satur­day night to hold the rally that was cut short on Sept. 19, when they were ex­pelled from the square — twice — by Se­cret Ser­vice per­son­nel, who cited pro­to­cols linked with a pres­i­den­tial move­ment.

This time, the rally, des­ig­nated as CureFest for Child­hood Can­cer went off as sched­uled, al­beit with far fewer par­tic­i­pants. How­ever, this time, one of the speak­ers was the head of the Se­cret Ser­vice, Joseph Clancy.

Clancy had al­ready apol­o­gized to the group af­ter the dispir­it­ing Septem­ber in­ci­dent that left many of the group’s mem­bers down­cast and de­jected.

Speak­ing from the stage in the square, Clancy said the sus­pen­sion of the rally stemmed from ef­forts to fol­low es­tab­lished se­cu­rity pro­to­cols.

He also re­ceived a plaque, and he de­scribed the chil­dren who are mem­bers as an in­spi­ra­tion.

With any lin­ger­ing an­i­mos­ity seem­ingly for­got­ten, those at the rally ad­dressed them­selves to an ad­ver­sary with whom con­cil­i­a­tion seemed far less pos­si­ble.

Group goals in­clude rais­ing aware­ness of the fre­quency of child­hood can­cer and of the need for more re­search fund­ing.

Tom Mitchell, 48, of Ash­burn, Va., whose daugh­ter Shayla died of can­cer, urged the crowd to act to com­bat child­hood can­cer. The im­age many peo­ple hold of child­hood can­cer is of a rare dis­ease, he said. But in fact, he said, “each year we lose five ele­men­tary schools worth of chil­dren. How is that rare?” he de­manded.

One of the em­cees of the event was Natasha Gould, 11, of Canada, who was di­ag­nosed with in­op­er­a­ble brain can­cer.

“If I had one wish,” she told the crowd on the chilly Oc­to­ber night, it would be that next Septem­ber they would gather again and that the gov­ern­ment would “light up the White House in gold,” the color of the group’s drive against child­hood can­cer.

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