By Elizabeth Sims, BubbleLife Intern
Since Michael Jackson released the music video for his hit song “Thriller” in 1982, countless people have tried to master Jackson’s zombie-like dance moves.
These dance moves have inspired an annual flash-mob called “Thrill the World.” Every year since 2006 on Oct. 27, people all across the globe have gathered in their best zombie garb to show off Jackson’s signature moves.
Drew Kirk, an eighth grader at Coppell Middle School North, found an article about this global event from the previous year and brought it to drama teacher Brittany Reese to see if they could participate.
“He thought that as the drama teacher, I might be interested in participating,” Reese said.
Reese loved the idea and took it to coach Kathy Chasteen. Around the same time, Chasteen was assisting with a T-shirt fundraiser for Kamryn Rakestraw, the 18-month-old daughter of Coppell varsity soccer coach Chad Rakestraw. She was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer called neuroblastoma in May. Though Kamryn had been declared cancer free in September, the pair decided to turn the event into a fundraiser to help the family.
“I heard the sad news when Kamryn was diagnosed, and I was just devastated for them,” Chasteen said. “When Mrs. Reese came to me with the idea I was all for it.”
To teach the students the dance, Chasteen and Reese used a step-by-step video from the “Thrill the World” website. Reese linked the video the theatre website, and Chasteen showed it during her PE classes.
“I was very concerned when we started learning the dance because it was long and there were a lot of steps to memorize,” Chasteen said. “The PE students loved it and had a great time doing something to help someone else.”
While the students learned the dance in PE, Reese called on her Thespian Society officers to spread the word about the event. Seventh grader Macy Johnson stepped up and took charge of the publicity.
“We went on the morning announcements every day and made flyers,” Johnson said. “I wanted to spread the word because it was for a worthy cause and fun to do.”
Not only did she spread the word, but Johnson also participated in the flash mob by painting her face to look like a zombie and dancing with her peers.
“It was really cool and dressing up like a zombie was fun,” Johnson said. “It was good to help the Rakestraws because they are really nice.”
Chasteen stayed in constant contact with the family, and they attended the event which was held in the school’s cafeteria.
“I was so glad that the whole Rakestraw family was able to come and watch the students dance,” Chasteen said.
Rakestraw was impressed with the flash mob, but he was also humbled by the experience.
“It was awesome and I thought it was such an innovative idea for a fundraiser,” Rakestraw said. “It was cool to see all the kids involved especially at that age because I know it is hard for them to see outside their little bubble. It was really humbling.”
Chasteen and Reese were overjoyed at the event’s success, and the support their school was able to give the Rakestraw family.
“'Thrill the World' at North was everything we could have hoped for,” Reese said. “It was fun, we raised over $1,500, and precious little Kamryn is doing great.”
That total has climbed to a final amount of $2,010, and all of it will go toward paying off the family’s medical expenses. The “Thrill the World” flash mob might just become a regular event for Coppell as Chasteen hopes to hold the event on the CHS football field next year so students from all CISD schools can participate.