Sickle Cell Walk Yields Awareness and Unity for Devastating Disease

Shown above at the annual walk is Wesley Jefferson, Elecia Goodman, Reign Jefferson (sickle cell patient), Alisha Oliver (sickle cell patient) and Sickle Cell advocate Rebecca Highsmith

Despite torrential rain last Saturday morning, a 3K walk route was launched from the Florida State College downtown campus with 150+ enthusiastic sickle cell supporters.
The Annual Northeast Florida Sickle Cell Disease Association event is the major fundraising activity for public gene awareness, S-trait screening, patient support and college scholarships. Senator Audrey Gibson, walk Grand Marshall, was emphatic on her call for increased personal screening for sickle cell trait and education in order to reduce the number of births with the anemia. Simple S-trait gene testing is a free service provided by the Northeast Florida Sickle Cell Disease Association. When asked about the importance of individual knowledge concerning their family genetics, Dr. C.B. McIntosh, Medical Director, says that “parents owe it to their children not to inherit the disease form of this blood disorder, now that education testing and counseling is available, and strict birth control is practical.” The trait form usually has no symptoms and is very protective against malaria fever, but care should be taken in passing on this gene as much as possible. The result, is a generational fall in the number of sickle cell anemia births, and eventually fewer and fewer generations with the trait, a natural cure of a genetic order.

Ten teams of dedicated leaders and walk sponsors were acknowledged followed by a presentation from a new support group #teamweallwegot, founded by Orain B. Reddick, a sickle cell patient himself who owns a successful bowtie business, and a role model of courage in living with the disease. “#teamweallwegot main focus is to challenge people to know if they carry a sickle cell trait or not. Just like they know their HIV or STD status,” said Orain Reddick. In the end, Dr. McIntosh made a plea for more volunteers to support and concentrate their efforts to strengthen the organization, the “connected” advocate for sickle cell disease in Northeast Florida. Locally one in 10 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait (which has no symptoms) and one in 400 is afflicted with the disease. One becomes diagnosed with the disease when they are the product of two trait carrying parents.
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