Rescheduled rally held
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.