sickle-cell-ambassadors_web.jpgWEST PALM BEACH — On Saturday the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach Coast & Treasure Coast welcomed the public to a special Open House Festival & Community Health Fair.

The Sept. 15 event at the foundation’s offices, 1600 N. Australian Ave. in West Palm Beach, was part of the regional and national recognition of September as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

Sickle cell disease is a condition that causes the body to produce red blood cells that resemble the curved blade of a sickle. The cells hinder blood flow and reduce oxygen flow to the body. About one in every 400 African-Americans is born with the sickle-cell trait. In observance of Sickle Cell Awareness Month in Broward County, “We here at the foundation can’t keep calm because we know too many people and children that have Sickle Cell,” says the Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease Research at 2521 Johnson St. in Hollywood. The organization can be reached at 954-397-3251, or visit

Meanwhile, Sickle Cell Miami again is looking to “Help Break the Sickle Cycle” with its annual Sickle Cell 5000. This year’s 5K Run/Walk is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, 8 a.m. – noon at tropical Park Stadium, 7900 S.W. 40th St. in Miami. For registration info or other details call 305-324-6219 or visit

Nationally, Moving Forward: Advocating for New Discoveries, Advancements and Breakthroughs is the theme for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America’s 41st annual convention, Sept. 24 – 27 at the BWI Marriott Hotel in Linthicum, Md. For other details visit

Like its fellow agencies, the Palm Beach County & Treasure Coast agency provides advocacy, free sickle-cell screenings, education, individual and family counseling, support groups, prescription cards, a Community Voice program, Haitian Outreach Project, comprehensive case management and other services.

Saturday’s open house provided members of the community an opportunity to learn about the impact of the sickle cell disease and trait, about the foundation, as well as to receive immunizations, meet the Sickle Cell Poster Child and Ambassadors and participate in a blood drive. Other activities included free refreshments, haircuts, games, prizes, a bounce house and organizations providing information about other community resources.

Among active examples of how to live life while managing the chronic condition are Dameneka Afrika, the foundation’s 2013-2015 poster child. She not only has been selected as part of the Suncoast High School Chargerette’s Drill Team, she also is managing her sickle cell disease while attending classes, practicing as part of the multicultural dance team that supports the school’s sports teams and she volunteers as a spokesperson for the foundation.

Also excited about the new school year is Jazmine Morris, the foundation’s ambassador. “Every year I say ‘New Year, New Beginning,’ and this year is no exception,” she said. “I’m looking forward to joining new clubs and societies, and passing each semester with high honors (3.8 or higher GPA). I am an active member of theatre and I am extremely excited about being a dedicated member of International Thespian Society. I am seeking to get involved in clubs that do volunteer work, such as Wheels for Wheels and National Honor Society and other great selective groups. I am also looking forward to being a part of my school’s Spirit Week and a member of the Homecoming Committee. I am eager to learn and grow as an individual and the groups that I join are a very big part of that.” Upcoming foundation activities include the annual Claudia J. Smith Golf Tournament, Oct. 12, and Annual Cell-ebration 5K Walk/Run, Nov. 2.

For other information call 561-833-3113 or visit


MANAGING SICKLE CELL: From left, Jazmine Morris, ambassador for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County & Treasure Coast; Dameneka Afrika, 2013 – 2015 foundation poster child; and Nadera Derosier, ambassador of the Sickle Cell Community Voice Program.