Foundation banquet set

Published 4:14 pm Saturday, February 25, 2017

An awards ceremony is set for early March for Suffolk locals that have helped fight a health issue that affects hundreds in the region.

The Suffolk Sickle Cell Foundation is celebrating 42 years of Suffolk outreach services with its annual awards banquet at 4 p.m. on March 4. The banquet will be held at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church on Godwin Boulevard.

Sickle cell disease is estimated to affect 70,000 to 100,000 people in the United States. Unlike healthy red blood cells, sickle cells tend to form clumps that can block flow and cause extreme pain and severe organ damage.

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Whitfield said the foundation focuses on raising awareness of the disease and other local health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. The foundation organizes workshops, seminars and other services for folks that need their help.

“We got a challenge to make persons more aware of sickle cell and our mission so we can do more and help,” Whitfield said.

While the foundation’s efforts have been tremendous over the past 42 years, Whitfield said they can do even better going forward.

“Like anything, we can always do better,” Whitfield said. “We can get the word out more and get people more aware of sickle cell. I think we can get better support.”

Volunteer caterer Cynthia Mullins will prepare an extensive buffet for banquet guests, including fried chicken, rice, mixed greens and dessert options. At least 200 supporters are expected to attend the banquet.

“She was willing to come in and help in a very special way,” Suffolk Sickle Cell Foundation board of directors president Felton Whitfield said. “She’s getting quite a few volunteers to come in and help serve and prepare for the banquet.”

Musician Nathan Smith and his band will provide the evening’s music, along with other volunteer singers. Smith’s grandmother used to serve on the foundation’s committee, according to Whitfield.

“He’s a very anointed musician,” Whitfield said.

The foundation has raised more than $15,000 in the past year through charitable contributions by local organizations and businesses. Awards are based on each supporter’s total monetary contribution leading up to the ceremony.

City of Suffolk Treasurer Ron Williams will once again receive the Presidential Award for contributing at least $1,500 to the organization.

“Ron is a very strong supporter of us,” Whitfield said.

First Baptist Church Mahan Street and C.H. Wilson Men’s Bible Class have contributed at least $1,500 as well.

“They saw the great need of supporting sickle cell and helping spreading the awareness,” Whitfield said.

For information on tickets and other banquet information, call 488-4867.