Children, parents holding vigil to raise cancer awareness forced out of DC park
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Secret Service is apologizing after an annual event for kids with cancer was cut short over the weekend.
Hundreds of kids and their parents were booted from Lafayette Park for what the Secret Service calls “security reasons.” As a result, people taking part in CureFest for Childhood Cancer could not honor the children who have died or are battling cancer in the way they had hoped to.
Hope Veazey, a 9-year-old who fought leukemia for more than two years and recently finished her last round of treatment, was disappointed.
"I thought it was just because the president was out, and they didn't want to let us in because the president was there,” Veazey said.
The young cancer survivor was among those who attended a candlelight vigil at Lafayette Park on Saturday night. The group obtained a permit to gather there a year ago.
When they arrived, their hopes were dashed when attendees were blocked from going into the park for security reasons because President Obama had an event to attend. The group of about 700 began to ask questions, raised their cellphones to light the dark and some started to sing.
Veazey’s mother says she understood why the park was closed, but she did not understand why they were given so little information.
"We understand the president's schedule. We understand national security. That -- we don't question that at all. We were just hoping for information, trying to understand why our permit wasn't being answered,” said mother Kristin Veazey.
According to event organizer Mike Gillette, Secret Service director Joe Clancy called to offer a personal apology, which he accepted.
"He was very sincere and offered a very heartfelt apology for what had happened. He said they were going to internally look into what went on, but he said they did not handle it well, and he felt really bad about it,” said Gillette.
FOX 5 reached out to the Secret Service, but we did not hear back.