WOONSOCKET — When you are facing life’s greatest challenges, it helps to have people standing strongly behind you.
And that is what Tammy Lamberto Roy found she has Thursday evening when a “flash mob” of co-workers, friends, students and supporters showed up outside her home at 61 Mount St. Charles Ave. with all the love and warmth needed to push back the darkness of a freezing December night.
The crowd marching down the hill from the parking lots at Mount St. Charles Academy carried candles and signs stating boldly “We love you Tammy,” and “We believe in You.”
As they came closer to the home, you could hear Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” playing in the background. And then once in front of her home, as Tammy came out watch and even to join them briefly on the blocked-off street, the flash mobbers danced to the Katie Perry song “Roar.”
The whole heartwarming showing of support by over 250 people was put together in just two days by Tammy’s closest friends and co-workers in the Woonsocket School Department.
Jennifer Maiello, Woonsocket High School’s theatre arts teacher, began working on the flash mob with a few of Tammy’s friends after they learned Tammy, a breast cancer survivor, had just been diagnosed with liver cancer. She is going into the hospital today for more tests to help plan her treatment.
“It is amazing that all of this started with just six people sending out emails two days ago,” Maiello said as she looked around at the crowd filling the street both below and above Tammy’s home on Mount St. Charles.
“It’s a fabulous turnout and it is a testament to how many people love Tammy,” Maiello said.
The mob of love was helped to carry out its work Thursday evening with several police cruisers and officers from the Woonsocket Police Department, who blocked the street from traffic, and three engines from the Woonsocket Fire Department that called attention to the crowd as it made its way down the hill to Tammy’s home.
Tammy’s mother, Pauline Lamberto, standing on the front lawn with Tammy and her family as the crowd sang along with Perry’s refrain “You are going to hear me roar,” was overcome with emotion from the showing of support.
“I think it’s great,” her mother said. “She deserves this because she is a wonderful person. She is loved by everyone,” Lamberto said.
“I can’t believe it, well, I really do believe it because she really deserves it, she’s great,” her mother said.
Maiello took a microphone briefly to sum up the crowd’s feelings for Tammy as the street dancing came to a close.
“Tammy, tonight we are all here to show you our support our love and our appreciation,” Maiello said. “Over the years you have been an inspiration to all of us. Whether it is in your radiant personality, your contagious smile or your huge giving heart, you have touched each and every one of us,” she said.
“We know you have a very difficult journey ahead of you, but as you can see you will not walk alone, and if anyone can fight this, it’s you, Tammy,” Maiello said.
The mob then became noisy one more time with chants of “Tammy, Tammy, Tammy…”
Tammy’s husband, Noel, was watching the crowd while holding the couple’s daughter, Mia, 4, and said it was an “awesome” showing of support. He added he wasn’t surprised someone would do that for Tammy.
“She knows a lot of people and she is always doing things to help people,” he said.
Tammy, herself, said she did not plan to let her friends down.
“I’m going to fight this until the end. I’m not giving up,” Tammy said with her friends around her. “I’ll be here a long time.”
She also described the gathering as a bit of an honor coming from so many people.
“Yes, I feel the love and support of everybody,” she said.
Her friends said Thursday that they had to do something for Tammy because she has always been there for others. When the high school Theatre Arts Department put on its annual benefit in November for former school department occupational therapist Amy Zimmerman Duggan, Tammy was among the performers organizing a performance of Roar to support Duggan in her ongoing battle with cancer.
Tammy is a special education teacher at Globe Park Elementary School, and a fellow teacher from the school, Sarah Cherniawski, also in the crowd, said her co-worker “is the most positive person you could ever meet.
“We are here because we love her and want to support her,” she said.
The event also had the support of the Woonsocket Teachers Guild, which helped to provide the signs the mobbers carried, and that of some city officials and local members of the General Assembly.
Another teacher, Darlene Marty-Rivers, said she went because Tammy “is a dedicated teacher. She is all about her kids and always has been,” she said.
“She is always there for everyone else and if anyone needs anything, she is always there,” Marty-Rivers said.
Jessica Frechette, a teacher who works with Tammy at Globe, said the organizers were able to keep the flash mob a secret right up until it began marching down the hill.
“We are going to be singing and dancing to the song ‘Roar,’ and she has no idea that we are coming,” Frechette said. “We are going to show her that everyone in the community supports her.”