Politicians, foundation join forces for sickle cell

Two local politicians have joined ranks for the 1st Benefit Golf Tournament hosted by Jake Gaither Golf Association, Inc. and the Sickle Cell Found, Inc.

Sen. Al Lawson and County Commissioner Bill Proctor will host the event Saturday in order to bring awareness of the disease to the local community.

“I grew up around there, so it’s special to me to come back and give myself to the community,” Proctor said.

Blacks have the highest risk for sickle cell disease. According to The Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc., one out of every three blacks is born with the trait and one out of 12 are born with the life threatening disease.

The Web site http://Sickle.bwh.Harvard.edu/scd_inheritance.html, which is a site dedicated to the potentially fatal disease, defines the sickle cell disease as an inherited condition.

Two genes for the sickle hemoglobin must be inherited from one’s parents in order to have the disease.

A person who receives a gene for sickle cell disease from one parent and a normal gene from the other has a sickle cell trait.

The sickle cell trait produces no symptoms or problems for most people. Sickle cell disease can neither be contracted nor passed on to another person.

Proctor said that although he is not related to anyone who has sickle cell, he feels good to be able to give back to others.

“I know people that have sickle cell and I feel I am giving leadership by being part of this golf tournament,” Proctor said.

Proctor and Lawson will be honorary chairpersons..

“This is my first time hosting a golf tournament, but it should be fun,” Proctor said.

“I am not an avid golfer, but I can’t wait to get out there and play.”

“This is going to be a fun day that everyone can enjoy,” said Edward Acoff, organizer of the golf tournament.

Some South side Tallahassee residents, such as Reynard Mullins, are anxious to see the outcome of the golf tournament.

Mullins has been living around the Jake Gaither Center for 23 years and has never witnessed anything like this before.

“It’s about time they have something nice like this over here,” Mullins said.

Anticipation for the event does not stop at residents. Students are being impacted as well – especially, those affected by the disease. “I get sick easy. Plus I bruise a lot,” said Cristine Lewis, 18, a freshman from Raleigh, N.C. “It doesn’t always bother me.”

As residents and students get ready for the tournament, some are anticipating the event to see its outcome for the community.

However, victims of sickle cell, like Lewis, are glad that the spotlight will be on the disease in hopes for better community awareness.

Contact Jonathan Kelly at j_kelly21@yahoo.com