Skip to main content
Alyssa Sweeney and Jack Boeve, Relay for Life co-captains, with the lawn flamingos
Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 4 years ago

Riverview students use 'flocks' to fight cancer

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

When Laura Jessen heard her husband, Chris, call to her from the front door, she thought he was kidding.
“What the heck is going on?” she remembers him asking, as he went to walk the couple’s dogs. “There are pink flamingos everywhere out front!”

The couple was surprised to find that a flock of 30 pink plastic flamingos had mysteriously appeared in the front yard. Attached to one of the fluorescent birds was a note that read, “Congratulations, you’ve been flocked!”

The night before, a group of Riverview High School students had been hard at work, stealthily placing dozens of plastic flamingos in the yards of unsuspecting victims to raise funds for their Relay for Life team.

“We loved it,” Jessen says. “So fun! Nothing like pulling off a good prank.”

In addition to a giant flock of flamingos, the students also left a note, which offered a chance to pay the prank forward to a friend for a donation ranging from $10 to $30, depending on flock size. The team plans to donate all donations to the American Cancer Society.

“I, myself, am a cancer survivor and supporter of the ACS,” says Jessen. “I decided to “super flock” four friends: some with children who I knew would love to wake up to 60 pink flamingos, and others who I knew would appreciate this and pay it forward.”

Riverview junior and team co-captain, Alyssa Sweeney, says she came up with the idea three weeks ago during a brainstorming session with her Young Life leader.

“I thought it sounded fun,” says Sweeney. “It’s something different than just a carwash or typical fundraiser.”
After the students purchased the flamingos, Sweeney’s mother volunteered to pay for the first flocking, and the students snuck out into the night to surprise their first victim: Sweeney’s uncle, Gary Collins, who was celebrating his birthday at the time.

For the last three weeks, the group of 23 students has been making two or three stops each night, collecting and placing the flamingos, while trying to remain unseen.

Sweeney and her co-captain, Jack Boeve, say they hope to raise $3,500 before Relay for Life in April. So far, they’ve collected about $600. They’re confident they’ll meet or exceed their goal.

“I expected it to catch on,” says Sweeney. “But, I didn’t expect it to catch on this fast. Everyone seems to love it, and it’s not something that’s a chore for us; it’s a lot of fun.”

For more information contact Alyssa Sweeny at [email protected].

Related Stories