You’ve been flocked!

You’ve been flocked!

Signs and plastic flamingos fill the back of Lincoln resident Tracy Cheney’s car, awaiting their next “home.” (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)
American Cancer Society fundraiser spreads smiles

LINCOLN – They approach the front lawn, stealthily walking with a sign and flock of plastic flamingos in tow. Quietly and swiftly, they jab each of the pink birds into the ground. If they’re lucky, they’re not caught.

Tracy and Will Cheney, a husband and wife team from Lincoln, have “flocked” more than 100 homes with these pink plastic lawn ornaments, but it’s all in good fun, they say, and for a good cause.

Since April, the two have been running the “flamingo” fundraiser for the American Cancer Society on behalf of Barrett’s Brigade, a Relay for Life team honoring the late Marla Barrett, a longtime teacher at Lonsdale Elementary School.

The Cheneys take requests, and donations from individuals who want to have their friends or family members “flocked.” It’s a prank, but the proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society’s Northeast Tri-Town Relay for Life group, and the Cheneys said they’ve raised about $1,300 from their “flamingo flocking” efforts.

The Cheneys will receive a request in the mail, complete with an address and name of the family or individual to be “flocked.” The requested donation is $10, but Tracy said she’s seen people donate $100 for the cause. Donors can choose to be anonymous, keeping the family or individuals that have been “flocked” guessing.

The couple sets out in search of the homes where the plastic ornaments are requested, typically in the morning around 8 a.m., or in the evenings after work. Will credits Tracy with most of the “flockings,” and said she’s done about 80 on her own.

Typically, the “flocks” are planted outside the homes of individuals who have survived cancer, are battling the disease, or on the lawns of family members or friends who have lost someone to cancer.

“We try to flock every day,” Tracy said, saying she’s traveled throughout the state and into Massachusetts to pull the pranks.

The pink flamingos, or as the Cheneys call them, “the girls,” might even make their way up to Vermont if a donor requests to borrow the birds for an evening.

Tracy returns to fetch the plastic flamingos once she’s sure the homeowner has spotted them, which usually doesn’t take long, she said. Most people, she said, take pictures with the birds on their lawns, and share the photos on social media.

Sometimes, she and Will said, children have a hard time letting go of the birds, but with the help of parents, they understand that the flock must travel to a new home.

No one is “safe” from being “flocked,” said the Cheneys with a smile, and so far, no one has gotten mad.

While they’ve gotten the hang of hiding behind trees or objects to camouflage themselves, the Cheneys are sometimes caught in the act. They said homeowners have come down their driveways, demanding to know what they’re up to.

“You’ve been flocked!” they tell the homeowners, and once they explain the cause, the Cheneys share stories with the families about how their lives have been affected by cancer.

The couple said they have family members who have endured cancer, and spoke of Marla Barrett and her strength before she died of the disease. The Cheneys said they learned to live life to the fullest after watching Barrett continue to do everything she possibly could until her final days.

“We’ve got to start enjoying our life while we’re still here,” Will said.

The “flocking” fundraiser journey, the two said, has caused them to laugh and cry.

“Something that little means a lot to people,” Will said of the prank with good intentions.

“I think the pink flamingos bring a little smile to people’s faces,” he said.

To learn more about the “flamingo fundraiser,” email Tracy at tlcheney2@gmail.com , or call 401-585-4065.

To learn more about making donations, or the upcoming Relay for Life event on Aug. 11, visit www.relay.acsevents.org .

Tracy and Will Cheney, of Lincoln, plant their flock of flamingos Monday on the lawn of an unsuspecting Cumberland resident.