By Shanderia K. Posey
Coming upon the 11th year of having the annual 5K Walk, Run and Ride, Cure Sickle Cell Foundation co-founder, Dee Nixon, has come to a disheartening realization – “This past year (in comparison to the 10 years prior), we have lost the most sickle cell survivors.”
The realization isn’t based on a data base of information, but just from Nixon’s general assessment of what she’s seen over the years. Every year following the 5K, a balloon release is held in memory of those who have died from sickle cell disease. “To me, it’s always important to honor those who have passed and pay homage to let them know we are still down here working for them,” Nixon said.
As a parent of a child with sickle cell disease Nixon said, “Every birthday is special.” Nixon, along with her husband, Dr. Larry Nixon, founded the Cure Sickle Cell Foundation. “Our focus is slightly different (than why some other health awareness events/walks occur). That’s why we are driven,” she said.
The foundation’s 5K Walk, Run and Ride is its biggest fundraiser of the year. It’s set for 4 p.m. Sept. 25, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson. Registration begins at 3 p.m. More than 300 people are expected to attend so far, and onsite registration is available.
Individual registration is $20. Individuals on teams of 10 people or more can participate for $15 each. Cash and credit cards only will be accepted for payments – no checks.
A shorter distance Fun Run is scheduled for kids or those who can’t complete the entire 5K. Motorcyclists and bikers are welcomed to ride out the event. And golf carts or some form of transportation will be available to those who are disabled and can’t walk or run the 5K. Iris Young, CSCF volunteer coordinator, board member and sickle cell parent, explained the purpose of the 5K is to not only generate funds but also raise awareness about sickle cell disease.
The disease affects about 100,000 Americans. Statistics show about one of every 13 African-American babies is born with the sickle cell trait. One of every 365 African-American babies is born with the disease. The CSCF gives funds to Blair E. Batson Hospital in Jackson where children with sickle cell disease are treated.
The funds are earmarked for meal vouchers, emergency vouchers and parking vouchers. Funds raised will also support new programs the CSCF will start soon, including an after-school program and entrepreneurial program.
Young said the foundation holds “out-of-the-box” events year round such as a wine tasting around Valentine’s Day, Zumba classes and, most recently, the STRUT fashion show. Nixon is grateful to all partners of the event, especially the city of Jackson and new partner, AARP of Mississippi. Kimberly Campbell, the new state director of AARP, reached out to Nixon about supporting the cause.
“She wants to sow more into the community. She always says, ‘How can I help?’” Nixon said of Campell, who is scheduled to share words on behalf of AARP during the event. A couple of food vendors will be onsite for the walk. Kona Ice will sell frozen treats with a portion of the proceeds going to the foundation.
Those who can’t attend the 5K walk can still support CSCF through donations and by shopping through the Amazon Smile Give Back Program.
For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.curesicklecell.org or find them on Facebook.