Chick-fil-A on Jackson Avenue was full of dancing, singing and surprises Saturday afternoon as a flashmob greeted Lily Baker and helped her celebrate her birthday.
Lily was diagnosed with leukemia last March. The last year of sickness, doctors appointments and extended stays at St. Jude in Memphis has been exhausting, to say the very least. But Lily’s mother, Nicole Baker, said the level of community support has been just as overwhelming.
Once Lily and her friends were settled into their table at the restaurant and had a chance to run around and play, they were greeted to a flashmob. The dancing group was composed of Ole Miss cheerleaders, dancers from Oxford High School, members of the OHS JROTC and more. All of them dancing in sync to a few pop songs blasting over the speakers. There was also a Chick-fil-A cow in a princess gown there to dance with Lily as the music played.
Lea Fyfe helps handle public relations and events for the restaurant. She knows of Lily and her family just from hearing their story around town. She learned that Nicole had booked Lily’s birthday party at the store and she knew she wanted to make it special.
“They were talking about the birthday coming up, and I knew I wanted to do something cool for her birthday,” Fyfe said. “I was sitting there thinking about it and I’ve always wanted to do a flashmob. Seeing the pictures of Lily on Facebook and hearing her story, she just seems like such an exuberant little kid.”
Fyfe worked with her friend Robin Lyons to plan it all out. Lyons is the dance coach at Oxford High School. She volunteered to choreograph the dance if Fyfe supplied the dancers. OHS JROTC members volunteered to make hair bands for the dancers to wear that blended in with Lily’s “Troll” themed party.
After the surprise performance concluded, the dancers were met with applause and smiles. Lily was still giddy over the whole thing, but couldn’t take her eyes off the Chick-fil-A cow dressed in a princess gown. Some of the adults were wiping tears away.
“It’s been a group effort,” Fyfe said. “This isn’t anybody’s show but Lily’s. It’s easy to rally behind her just because of what she’s been through this year. To see how far she’s come and how many treatments she’s been through, it’s moving.”
Lance Reed is the franchise owner of the Jackson Avenue restaurant. He said that he really admires Fyfe’s willingness to give back and was happy to give her the license to do so. It all goes back to the operating motto of Chick-fil-A, which is improving the lives of community members beyond the transaction.
Nicole had no idea what was about to happen when flashmob came through. Someone told her to sit down and get her phone out, but didn’t know what was coming.
“They told me to get out my camera, but I had no idea what to expect, certainly not a legit flashmob,” the mother said, wiping away tears. “I’m just so happy to see everyone working together to make today special for her. The way the community has come out to take care of us and our child, I just have no words. Nothing makes a mom happier.”
The cake at the party was donated by Andrea’s Addictions, a bakery in Olive Branch.