PFCC sponsor 2nd Annual Sickle Cell Awareness 5K Run/Walk

Runners line up to begin the Second Annual Sickle Cell 5K Run/Walk.
Staff Writer

Saturday was a perfect morning for a run. The Progressive Foundation of Clay County held its Second Annual Sickle Cell Awareness 5K Run/Walk at Marshall Park not only to raise money for Mississippi Sickle Cell but to raise awareness of the disease.
A nice crowd of people showed up at the 8 a.m. event.

Dorothy Ryland is an active runner and happy to be part of the 5K run.

"I'm ready to run," Ryland said. "Anytime I can run and help raise money for a such a great cause, I want to be part of it. The Progressive Foundation is doing as wonderful thing here. Not many people know about Sickle Cell unless they have a family member with the disease."

James Gates is a spokesman for the disease and the author of "The Essence of Sickle Cell Disease."

Gates said Sickle Cell disease is found mostly among African Americans because it originated in Africa as a defense against the body contracting malaria. 

"I was very sickly as a child," Gates said. "Once when my mother and I were walking to church during the summer, I was so very hot, I didn't feel well and I just wanted to go back home and lay down. When i complained to her about the heat, she just said. 'Hell's hotter! Keep walking."

He said he didn't realize it at the time, but she had given him his mantra for when he felt the disease was winning, "Keep walking."

"I have several transfusions throughout the year," Gates said. "I always feel better after those. There have been clinical testing for removing the blood of a Sickle Cell patient and doing a complete and total transfusion. They results so far have been promising."
He said one type of SCD are SS, this is the most sever type with constant pain and 20 - 30 blood transfusions a year. 

"I have type SC which is a little less severe," Gates said. "But we go blind. I've had two surgeries on my eyes and early onset glaucoma. Besides probably not living much past 40, I'll never know what it is to wake up and feel normal. I have no idea of what normal is."
Gates said it is your blood in the sickle stage is jagged and cutting the organs. The fact that the jagged cells are also being carried to and from his brain causes him to worry. He said there is no upside to Sickle Cell Disease.
District 3 Supervisor R.B. Davis attended the event and said he had known very little about the disease.

"I think events like these are very important to educate the public," Davis said. "A lot of times unless something impacts us personally, we aren't as aware as we should be. We can never know enough."

He said the Progressive Foundation was doing a great service to the community by sponsoring these types of events.