St. Croix sorority helping to raise sickle cell awareness
Published: September 25, 2013
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
ST. CROIX - The St. Croix Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta invites the community to participate in a walk-a-thon in observance of September as Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
The walk-a-thon, recognized as a "Sunrise Walk and Dip" to stomp out sickle cell, will start at 6 a.m. on Saturday, from Buddhoe Park to Frederiksted Pool.
Desiree Illidge, president of the St. Croix Alumnae Chapter, said because September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month and it is also back-to-school month for children and teachers, the sickle cell disease Association of America wanted to encourage the public to reflect on the children and adults whose lives, education and careers have been affected by the disease.
The local chapter of the sorority has been conducting fundraisers to raise awareness about the disease for a number of years, because Illidge said there are dozens of people who are family or friends, as well as some members of the sorority, whose lives have been impacted in one way or another by sickle cell.
"There are dozens of organizations nationwide that do fundraisers for this, and we wanted to also be a part of the efforts because we know the issue first-hand and realize that the awareness is low and people need to be educated more about this disease and how to lessen the effects it may have," she said.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an estimated 2 million people in the United States are sickle cell carriers, meaning that although they have no symptoms, they have inherited one sickle cell gene from a parent and could pass it on to their children.
When two sickle cell carriers have a child together, there is a 25 percent chance that the child will be born with the disease.
Illidge said the disease may seem rare, but the association estimates that in addition to the estimated 2 million sickle cell trait carriers, at least 100,000 people in the United States have sickle cell anemia, an inherited, lifelong disorder that affects the red blood cells.
Red blood cells move oxygen from the lungs throughout the body, and normal red blood cells are round, doughnut-shaped, and able to move easily through the blood vessels. In contrast, sickle cells are abnormal, crescent-shaped red blood cells with a tendency to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs, which can lead to pain, serious infections and organ damage. The disease is most common among African Americans but occurs in people of Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern and South Asian decent.
Illidge said the sorority was happy to learn that most states and territories routinely test newborns for sickle cell prior to their leaving the hospital and urged parents to request the test so that they are aware early of their child's status.
Participants in the Sunrise Walk and Dip are asked to pledge a minimum donation of $10, and proceeds will benefit the Sorority's Sickle Cell Fund. The Sorority's Sickle Cell Fund is used to award a scholarship to a deserving student who has the sickle cell disease or trait.
Participants for the walk-a-thon are asked to wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers on Saturday and come prepared to take dip at the beach or in the pool following the walk.
A light breakfast will be served on Saturday following the walk.
For more information, contact Illidge at 513-4545 or send an email to the St. Croix Alumnae Chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.