Walk fights sickle cell disease

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Jasmine Phillips

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Staff Writer

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The brother and mother of a local woman are raising funds for families dealing with sickle cell disease by hosting a walk on Saturday. 

This is the third year that Jasmine Phillip’s mother has hosted a walk in her daughter’s honor. Jasmine died from the effects of sickle cell disease in 2014 at the age of 20. This year’s walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. at East End Missionary Baptist Church on East Highland Avenue.

“This is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month so we have this walk at this time every year to educate people about the disease,” said Lavonda Phillips, Jasmine’s mother. “This year, we will have speakers from the hematology department of Vidant hospital in Greenville to talk about sickle cell and answer questions.”

Phillips said a bus from the OIC Family Medical Center also will be on hand to help people determine their blood type and to possibly help screen for the sickle cell trait.

“Last year, we learned that a lot of people in the area have no idea what their blood type is,” Phillips said.

Sickle cell disease afflicts approximately 100,000 Americans, but occurs most frequently in black populations, occurring in about one out of every 365 black newborns. Though about one in 13 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait, both parents must be carriers for their child to be born with the disease.

This year, the newly-formed Jasmine Sickle Cell Warrior Foundation will be participating in the the walk, which is now called the JSCW Foundation Sickle Cell Walk. Jasmine’s brother JaQuon Phillips started the foundation as a class project in college, but it attained nonprofit status in December 2016.

Phillips, who is pursuing a business administration degree at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, said Jasmine’s experience with the disease made him want to help others.

“It was painful to watch,” Phillips said. “I would see her have to ride out the pain — and when things got too bad, she would have to go to the hospital. I felt so helpless. There was nothing I could do.”

Phillips said he remembers how excited his sister was to participate in the Envy-us Step Team, despite her pain.

“I remember one time she was in the hospital dealing with a crisis, and all she was worried about was missing a step competition,” Phillips said.

Phillips hopes to use the money donated to the foundation to help young people who have sickle cell disease follow their dreams. He also wants to use the funds to help support families who are dealing with the disease.

“I want someone to be able to sit down with these families and share their experiences with the disease to help them understand,” Phillips said.

For more information about the Jasmine Sickle Cell Warrior Foundation, go to https://www.facebook.com/JSCWFoundation/. For more information about sickle cell disease, go to https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/index.html.