Police raise funds for cancer cure

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Officers, sergeants, deputies and family members, decked in their Halloween best, performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the downtown Austin Police Department garage Wednesday to raise money for breast cancer research.

The crowd, composed mostly of family members, laughed and clapped to the familiar tune as some police force members, supporting the APD fundrasing group SCARE for a CURE, emerged from a pink police car reading “Susan G. Komen for the Cure.”

SCARE’s president and co-founder, APD Detective Jarrett Crippen, said APD has performed “Thriller” since 2007 when they first teamed with the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas.

“We wanted to find a way members of the force could get involved with the effort to raise awareness,” he said. “When they aren’t at work, they’re with their families so there’s not a lot of time to contribute, but this way they can fundraise and enjoy their families.”

SCARE also hosts a haunted house from Oct. 14 until Halloween night. Crippen said all of the proceeds go to breast cancer research and awareness.

“Every year that we have hosted our events, the amount of money we raise has doubled,” he said.

Last year, SCARE raised $15,000 for the Breast Cancer Resource Centers and its goal this year is to raise between $20,000 and $25,000.

Tammy Santos and her two daughters, ages 12 and 5, danced in support of her husband, a crime analyst with APD. Santos said she and the girls have practiced since late September and were happy to perform.

“Breast Cancer [research] is a great thing to support, and it seemed fun, so I was happy to do it,” Santos said. “I am so proud of my girls because they worked hard and we had a good time together.”

Alex Schafer, a 17-year-old high school student with a father and stepmother on the force, starred as Michael Jackson, clad in full “Thriller” garb. Schafer said he simply came where he was needed and was glad to help.

“I knew they did ‘Thriller,’ but I hadn’t really thought of helping until they asked,” he said. “They needed someone to be Michael, and I loved the idea of hanging out with these people because most of them are like family.”

Schafer said they had weeks of practice but he didn’t have a lot of trouble because he is an experienced dancer.

“I performed ‘Thriller’ at my high school in theater, and I was Michael Jackson there, too, so I had a small advantage,” he said.

SCARE for a CURE continues their fundraising effort on Oct. 23, with “Thrillerfest 2010,” where participants can learn the full “Thriller” dance and get a chance to perform. The rest of the month’s events can be found at scareforacure.org.