Orchestrated by Dr. Michael Hoops and the pink ladies of The Plastic Surgery Clinic of Cleveland, the Flamingo Flock works in cahoots with VFAC — which is now in its sixth year — to promote awareness of breast cancer and to raise proceeds for the MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Fund.
Scholarship recipients, a few of whom are current Lee University students, are those whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer.
Founded by Lee University Lady Flames head volleyball coach Andrea Hudson, Volley for a Cure originated as an outlet for the coach’s young athletes to interact with the Cleveland and Bradley County community. VFAC was already paving a trail for fundraising and awareness during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October, but then the pink theme grew.
Buoyed by the wings of pink birds — plastic flamingoes, in fact — the Flamingo Flock was given birth in a brainstorm by the VFAC Committee, one member of whom was Zandra Welch, Hudson’s sister who also represented The Plastic Surgery Clinic, a VFAC sponsor.
“We’ve been flocking ever since,” Welch laughed. “And it just keeps getting bigger.”
The lighthearted campaign had grown so huge in only its second year in 2011 that Hoops & Ladies had to buy more flamingoes and recruit more volunteer flockers. That’s why the generals at Flamingo Flock HQ respectfully ask flocking recipients, and their neighbors and passersby, to treat the motionless birds with a little respect by not damaging nor kidnapping them.
“Those little darlings aren’t cheap!” Welch cited. “But we’re having a lot of fun with it and our flocking ‘victims’ are taking it all as intended — as a lighthearted way of bringing public awareness to a life-threatening disease while also raising funds for scholarships.”
Because the Flamingo Flock is now in its third year, most in the Cleveland and Bradley County community are familiar with its format. For the few who don’t understand its many shades of pink, here’s how the Flock works.
For a designated fee, based on the number of pink flamingoes ordered, a friend, co-worker or loved one can have the front lawn of another friend, co-worker or loved one populated overnight by a fleet of flamingoes. The planting always occurs late at night so as to heighten the degree of morning surprise for the homeowners within. The harmless fowl will remain in the yard through the next day. Sometime after dark on the following evening, a team of flamingo flockers will return to whisk away the troops to their next deployment.
The pricing schedule includes a Small Flock (10 flamingoes), $25 donation; a Medium Flock (20 flamingoes), $35; a Large Flock (35 flamingoes), $50; and a Super Size Flock (60 flamingoes), $75.
Sponsors of a flocking may make their orders by calling the VFAC Flocking Committee (Zandra, Angie, Sheri or Melissa) at 423-596-9159 or 423-472-1996. Another option for ordering a flock is to use pink-papered literature that is suspended in a plastic cover from the neck of one of the flamingoes.
The literature also explains what the flocking is all about and that “victims” should likely look to some of their closest friends or loved ones for accountability.
One segment of the paperwork cites, “A friend of yours has made a donation for us to place these pink darlings in your yard. This flocking is done in good spirits and is not meant to be mean. These flamingoes will roost on your lawn until this evening when they will mysteriously migrate to another friend’s (victim’s) law.”
The literature later adds, “Of course, the removal of these flamingoes will be done at no charge ... so please, don’t hurt our pink featured friends.”
A space is even provided for the name of the person who ordered the flocking. Sometimes a name is listed. Other times, the flocking source remains anonymous.
Those who still want to order a flocking should hurry. The deadline is Nov. 2, which is the final day of Volley for a Cure. On Nov. 1, VFAC will host its annual Breast Cancer Survivors Luncheon at the DeVos Recreation Center. This year’s VFAC will conclude on the next day with a variety of pink-themed activities in the Paul Dana Walker Arena, including a live volleyball match between the Lee Lady Flames and Coastal Georgia.
While time allows, and the volunteers don’t poop out, the flocking will continue to its scheduled close.
“We are busy, but we can take more orders at this time,” Welch said. “We can’t flock when it storms or in high winds. Otherwise, we are out all the time; at least, once the sun goes down!”
She added a Halloween note.
“We won’t be flocking on Halloween (Oct. 31),” Welch stressed. “We ask also that our customers not send us out on deserted roads or too far out of the city limits. That can get a little spooky!”
Orders for flocking will be taken until the Nov. 2 VFAC finale.
“Once we pick up our last wave of birds on the morning of Nov. 2, we won’t be placing them out in any more yards; at least, not until next year!” she noted.
n Lawyers (Outlaws) vs. Doctors (Resuscitators) benefit softball game on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 6:30 p.m. on the Lee University Lady Flames softball field.
n Breast Cancer Survivors Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 11:30 a.m. in the DeVos Recreation Center. Luncheon is free to breast cancer survivors and $20 per ticket for all others. Keynote speaker is Phil Stacey, professional musician and finalist from “American Idol.” Call 614-8600 for reservations.
n VFAC Game Day on Friday, Nov. 2, in the Paul Dana Walker Arena. Events to include VFAC Silent Auction, 4 p.m.; VFAC High School Volleyball Showcase featuring area high school volleyball stars, 5 p.m.; Pink Party, 6 p.m.; Pack the Stands with Pink, 6:45 p.m.; and the Main Event featuring the Lee University Lady Flames vs. the Coastal Georgia Mariners.
n VFAC’s 2012 Theme is “Pink is the New Black.” T-shirts are available for $5 (S-XL) and $7 (XXL and XXXL). They can be purchased at a variety of sponsor locations, and on the Nov. 2 “Game Day” events.
n VFAC 2012 Sponsors: Countryside Cafe, Outland Travel Inc., United Community Bank, Brenda Lawson & Associates, East-West Media, Cleveland Daily Banner, MaryEllen Locher Foundation, Zeta Chi Lambda, Lee Volleyball, Express Athletics, The Plastic Surgery Clinic of Cleveland, SouthEast Bank & Trust, Dick’s Graphics and Printing, Gobble’s Automotive and WCLE Mix 104.1.