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'Amazing' flash mob shines light on leukemia and lymphoma

Friday - 6/13/2014, 3:16pm  ET

From left, James Roberts, brother Chris Roberts, and Chris's son Jackson at the Lincoln Memorial flash mob for cancer research. His brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma last year and is now cancer-free. (Courtesy James Roberts)
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WASHINGTON - Nearly 100 people, including some former Redskins players and Ravens cheerleaders, turned out for the first flash mob on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last week -- and it was all for a good cause.

Organizer James Roberts' older brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma last year, "I decided at that time I couldn't just sit by and watch him go through the fight. I wanted to join in on the fight," he says.

Roberts' brother is now cancer-free but the fight continues for millions of families across the country.

"Leukemia and lymphoma, combined, are the No. 1 reasons that kids under the age of 20 die. There's no other cause or disease that kills more," Roberts says.

Roberts hopes the video goes viral and helps to raise $150,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by Saturday night, June 14.

The Gaithersburg resident says he's done other fundraising events before, like shaving his head during a Cut-a-Thon, but this was the first time he participated in a flash mob.

"I thought, how can I reach a huge audience and hopefully get a lot of people to donate just a little bit of money?" Roberts says.

His wife, Carrie, a former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, helped to choreograph the flash mob. Between the two of them, they were able to get former Redskins players Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs and Ravens cheerleaders to dance as well.

"(Smoot and Springs) were on board from the get-go… They played in front of 80,000 to 90,000 every single Sunday. So they are used to being in front of large crowds. But if you watch them in the flash mob, it was just as exhilarating for them. There were some tears at the end, for sure. But overall, it was just this feeling of… I get the word ‘amazing' a lot. Amazing. Unbelievable," Roberts says. "The feedback has been awesome."

Roberts didn't want to just do a flash mob, he says. He also wanted to honor children who have survived or lost their fight to cancer. During one part of the dance, the crowd put up their arms in the "Zaching pose" made famous by University of Maryland student Zach Lederer who passed away from brain cancer earlier this year.

"Zach lost his life to cancer but he never lost his fight," Roberts says.

Zach Lederer's parents danced along with dozens of other volunteers that ranged in age from 12 to 75. "The oldest was actually my father, Bill, who is 75 years old and has two artificial knees but he was out there dancing with the best of them," Roberts says, laughing.

Roberts is a finalist for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's 2014 Man of the Year for his fundraising efforts.

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