Working for a cure for sickle cell

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

Joette Claude’s mother and brother died from sickle-cell disease. Now, she’s using their memory to help raise money to prevent others from suffering in the same way.

“We wanted to do something in their honor,” Claude said. “Saturday is our event that we’re holding as a dedication service to Bessie Bond and Joseph Bond Jr.”

Saturday’s event will be held at 5 p.m. at the Redeemed Church of God in Christ, 509 E. Washington St. on the second floor of the Local 2426 union.

Email newsletter signup

It will include musical guests, a program of remembrance and education about sickle-cell disease, also called sickle-cell anemia.

The Suffolk Sickle Cell Association’s funding from the national organization was cut, Claude said, so she hopes to raise $5,000 to support the group.

To do so, Claude said, she hopes this event will be a springboard to a larger event at a later time that will include a silent auction of special items that belonged to those who have passed away from sickle-cell disease.

The disease is caused by abnormal hemoglobin in the blood, which changes the shape of red blood cells. They become shaped like crescents or sickles and therefore can deliver less oxygen to the body’s tissues. They also can get stuck more easily in small blood vessels and break into pieces that interrupt healthy blood flow.

It is a hereditary disease and is far more common among people of African and Mediterranean descent, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“Many carry the trait, and many have died from it,” Claude said. “You can live with it, but it’s just an agonizing condition.”

Having lost two loved ones to the disease, Claude came up with the idea of helping others to heal, while at the same time raising money.

“People are grieving, but they don’t know how to release it,” she said. “With how our family was going through grief, we thought we could support a cause and have a way of releasing that grief by celebrating their life.”

Claude is asking people for donations of items that belonged to their loved ones as a way of dealing with their grief. The items then would be auctioned to raise money.

“We will take those funds to be a springboard toward the next activity,” she said. “We are trying to raise enough money before March to make a donation at the annual banquet.”
Monetary donations will be accepted at Saturday’s event. For more information, call 652-5983.