By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
UNDER the theme, “Let’s Break the Sickle Cycle”, the Bahamas Sickle Cell Association (BSCA) will host its third annual fun run/walk on September 10.
The event aims to not only raise money for its ongoing education forums, but also for its programmes to assist Bahamians living with sickle cell disease (SCD).
SCD is a group of genetically passed down blood disorders. The most common type is known as sickle-cell anaemia. It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells.
BSCA director Danielle Ferguson said there is a lot of information that Bahamians need to be aware of in relation to SCD, including it being an inherited genetic disease and the importance of getting tested early enough to take proactive measures.
“Understanding the importance of oxygen, the need to stay hydrated, getting out of wet clothes and limiting physical exertion are just some of the core things every person with SCD needs to be aware of,” she said. “Not every pain is a growing pain. Feeling tired and not wanting to play or asking to stay home should not be ignored. It is important for parents to get the facts and speak to their doctors. There are options out there for health insurance that is not costly to employers or persons with this pre-existing disease. BSCA is there to support persons with the disease and we want persons to reach out to us.”
The upcoming walk/run, which is being held during World Sickle Cell Month, starts at 6am from Goodman’s Bay, continues to Sandyport, and back to Goodman’s Bay. Organisers are also offering a shorter route option for those interested. This route will start from Goodman’s Bay, continue to the Meliá Nassau Beach Resort and also conclude at Goodman’s Bay.
As a BSCA director, Ms Ferguson’s role is to ensure that the association meets its goals.
The annual fun run/walk, she said, is just one of many ways the association chooses to raise awareness during World Sickle Cell Month.
Ms Ferguson explained that funds raised at such events allow the BSCA to continue to host education forums, produce printed material for the public, distribute care baskets to “sickle cell disease warriors”, and more importantly, assist persons with surgeries and medical treatments both locally and abroad.
Last year, approximately 180 persons participated in the fun run/walk. The group’s goal this year is get at least 275 participants and to raise the sum of $3,000.
“I am one of the spokespersons for the organisation and I have SCD; it doesn’t have me,” said Ms Ferguson.
“The fun run/walk is the brainchild of our immediate past president, Dr Nisha Armbrister, who wanted to host events that will bring persons with the disease and their families together to raise awareness. The board decided to host the event again mainly because of its previous success and as a way to support healthy lifestyles that are so needed today in the Bahamas.”
Moreover, she said, the annual walk/run has evolved into an event that not only raises money, but also awareness of sickle cell disease. This year, the organisation has printed brochures and flyers with information about the disease.
“We will also be hosting other fundraising events during this World Sickle Cell Month. We are having our second annual raffle and mini fair on September 24 at the R M Bailey Park, Robinson Road. Food tickets and raffle books will be on sale in the upcoming weeks. We are hoping to raise $10,000 from the mini fair and raffle. BSCA has also established its regular monthly meeting held on the last Thursday of each month at Dr Patrick Roberts’ office on Dean’s Lane, Fort Charlotte at 6pm. We have also introduced quarterly education forums with topical issues which are open to the public free of charge. We will host our third forum for the year at Doctors Hospital on August18 at 6.30 pm,” said Ms Ferguson.
BSCA members are advising all interested persons to registed for the fun run/walk by August 31. For more information call 436-7130 or 427 4849, or visit the website, www.bahamassicklecell.org, or Facebook and Instagram pages for registration details. Walk-ups are welcomed and pre-registration on the morning of the event will begin at 5am.