Flash mob raises awareness for childhood cancer at the Marketplace

Carl E. Littleberry Jr., Reporter

Local patrons of the Marketplace in southwest Bakersfield were treated to a different kind of show than their usual dinner and a movie during the Labor Day festivities.

Considering September is national Childhood Cancer Awareness month, local mother Diane Proctor, 43, felt as though the people of Bakersfield needed in her words, “A kick in the pants about the issue.”

Proctor has dealt with this issue herself since 2012, when her son Ben Proctor was diagnosed with cancer. Ben is now in his third year of treatments after a January relapse in 2015.

Proctor believed she needed people to be more aware of the trials children all around the world face dealing with this disease.

With the help of her friends, Pryscylla Russell and Kenya Davis, she set out to find a way to get her message to the people of Bakersfield. However, she knew that any traditional means wouldn’t be enough; she needed to grab people’s attention.

Proctor eventually settled on a flash mob. Russell handled gathering the volunteers using social media outlets to ask people to come out and show support.

At 6 p.m., the volunteers littered the Marketplace with a group of volunteers that numbered in the high 60s all dressed in gold shirts to show their support for cancer research.

Led by Davis as their choreographer, the group of volunteers spent a total of three minutes dancing to the tunes of “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and the lesser-known “We Are The World-Haiti Version,” which consists of a collaboration of artists.

“We chose ‘We Are The World’ because it moves people,” Proctor said. “It has a message that we need to help each other, and it starts with helping our children. We chose the Marketplace because of the traffic that comes through here. We knew people would be here and that they would listen.”

According to Proctor and Russell, child cancer research only accounts for about four percent of medical research funding in America.

Russell doesn’t understand why it is so hard for people to understand that children go through the same problems adults do.

“Children are our future,” she said. “If we don’t invest in them who will.”

For more information on how to join these volunteers, contact Proctor on her Twitter page at @Zladydi05.