Walking for research

Hundreds of people came out to support the 23rd annual Sickle Cell Foundation walk hosted by Senator Al Lawson and Commissioner Bill Proctor.

The event, used to raise money for sickle cell research, consisted of a golf tournament, 1k and 5k walk.

“It was real fun,” said Deborah Smith, a local registered nurse. “I had a good time laughing and talking with a group.”

Some people came early to participate in the 1k walk, but others were geared up for the much longer 5k walk. Children of all ages, men and women were ready to start. One person even changed his mind at the last minute to walk instead of golf.

“This isn’t my first time walking, so I know what to expect,” Lawson said. “After the first two miles, I’ll be looking for a water bottle.

Sororities and fraternities also came out to support the walk. The Upsilon Psi chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. joined in to ran the 5k walk.

Everyone that participated in the walk wore a number across their chest. As they lined up and awaited the start, most of the older people gathered toward the back.

“It doesn’t matter how you finish, but it matters that you finish and gave a good effort,” said Louis Dunn, one of the older participants.

Not everybody was walking up and down the streets. Some were riding around the Jake Gaither Golf Course ready to tee off. Participants practiced hitting the ball from a short distance before the real action started.

Al McCoy, former assistant athletic director at FAMU, was one of golf participants.

“I usually play golf here twice a week,” said Lawson. “I was the first person to pay my $75, the very first person.”

Bananas, oranges and water were served to participants. If that did not get you to come out, someone was sure to tell you about it and bring you to the festivities.

“I helped encourage people to come out and play golf,” McCoy said.

Sickle cell is a serious disease that is very common in the black community.

Because it does not get as much publicity as many other diseases, many people came and showed their support for those affected by the disease.

“It’s for a good cause, but I don’t think the kind of funds and time goes into this kind of research like it should be,” Smith said. “It was well worth it and I’m glad I did it.”

“Everybody knows sickle cell attacks the black community, that’s why we need to do something about it,” Lawson said. “It was a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause, so it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Contact jonathan kelly at j_kelly21@yahoo.com.