Sickle Cell Awareness 5K Walk/Run a success

There was a great turnout for the first Sickle Cell Awareness 5K Walk/Run sponsored by the Progressive Foundation of Clay County Inc.
Staff Writer

The Progressive Foundation of Clay County Inc., made it their first project to sponsor a Sickle Cell Awareness 5K Walk/Run to raise awareness about the little known disease that primarily affects the African American Community.

There were many participants to take part in the 5K. The Foundation President, Carolyn Poston, said they had hoped to have 50 walkers/runners and was pleased to announce they had many more people than that take part in the event.

Board of Selectmen member William Binder read the proclamation signed by Mayor Robbie Robinson naming April as Sickle Cell Awareness month. Clay County Supervisor Lynn Horton spoke on behalf of the county. Rev. Eddie Longstreet led everyone in prayer. Members of the community who are living with Sickle Cell Disease spoke about the struggles of having the disease.

"I'm 64 years old," Robert Cox, a resident with SCD, said. "I am a living miracle. The average lifespan is around 40. I'm doing well. At first I was told I would not live to be seven, then 17, After that they gave up telling me I wouldn't live long. I give all the glory to God for my still being here."

Braxtynn Pruitt is seven years old and she enjoys normal activities and participates in sports.

"She doesn't let Sickle Cell slow her down," Pruitt's aunt, Khalilah Bennett said. "Her parents, Marlon and Laquante Pruitt are taking part in the run on her behalf."

Lanquan Ivy is 28 years old and has experienced the isolation of having a disease that few people understand.

"I was a lost little sea creature," Ivy said. "I would start school and then be out of school for months and then show back up and be way behind. None of the kids understood why I was in the hospital so much. I had a good friend who would help me get caught up on homework and assignments. Some nights I would be so overwhelmed with make-up work that I would pray for God to give me the strength to get caught up. The next morning I would knock it all out and be ready to turn it in. But growing up I always felt different and isolated. Sickle Cell is a lonely disease."

Ivy never let SCD get the upper hand in his life. He said despite all the days of school he missed, he graduated on time and walked with his class to receive his diploma.

"I turned 18 and graduated on time the same week," Ivy said. "That was the best birthday present I could have. I went on and spent two years at the EMCC Scooba campus. What I want to do, I do. I can't let this disease keep me from living my life."

A lot of people have never heard of Sickle Cell Disease. Ivy said he grew up feeling that he was the only one who was enduring the disease. No one else knew what it was like. There was no one to share the pain with who truly understood.

"College was a challenge," Ivy said. "It wasn't high school. No one was going to wait for me to catch up after an extended hospital stay. I either got it, or I didn't. But I made it."

The Progressive Foundation of Clay County Inc., plans to make the 5K Walk/Run an annual event each April and will continue to inform the community about Sickle Cell Disease.