WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of Washington area residents, including scores of Howard University students, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of sickle cell Saturday, Sept. 18, with the Stomp Out Sickle Cell Disease Walk/Run at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 14th streets in northwest Washington.
The five kilometer walk is to raise funds and awareness for sickle cell anemia, a painful, life-threatening disease that primarily affects African Americans.
Jeff Henderson, celebrity author and star of the Food Network program of The Chef Jeff Project, will be in attendance to show support and to promote the cause.
Barbra Harrison, a genetics counselor, assistant professor in the Howard University College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and director of community outreach and education for the Howard University Center for Sickle Cell Disease, urges all residents to support those affected by the disease.
“Thousands of people are affected by this disease every day,” Harrison said. This walk is one of the very few efforts in the Washington, D.C., area to show support to those impacted by it. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”
Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that affects the red blood cells. The abnormal hemoglobin in these cells can cause them to make a crescent shape that can block small blood vessels. The blockage decreases the amount of blood reaching tissue, which causes painful complications and even death.
Sickle cell anemia affects millions of people worldwide, particularly families from Africa, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Mediterranean countries, India and Saudi Arabia.
In the United States, sickle cell anemia affects about 70,000 people, hitting the minority community the hardest. In about one in every 500 African American births are diagnosed with the condition. The condition occurs in on out of every 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanic American births. About two million American carry the trait of sickle cell.
There will be stations set up by local hospitals to give out information about the disease and how those affected can utilize area services for themselves or their children.
Coordinators for this event include the Children’s National Medical Center, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorder, Georgetown University Hospital’s Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Faces of Our Children Inc., Howard University, National Institutes of Health and Sickle Cell Association of the National Capital Area Inc.