Sickle Cell and the NFL

I often think to myself, ‘why aren’t people doing more?’

There are so many individuals who have platforms they could use to raise awareness, surely some of them must be using it for a cause that needs it, such as sickle cell.

Sickle cell affects millions of people throughout the world; approximately 15,000 in the UK and 100,000 in America. With those huge numbers, I find it hard to believe that only a handful of celebrities and people with large followings talk about and support such a common genetic disorder. So, I started digging… it’s amazing what you can find when you just look!

My search lead me to the National Football League (NFL) which, for those of you that don’t know is a professional American football league. It is considered one of the most popular professional sports organisations in the world, and some of the players from its 32 teams have been supporting sickle cell and raising awareness through a campaign called ‘My Cause My Cleats’.

The NFL has a 17-week season and during week 13 games, players are allowed to feature a unique twist on their usually strict uniform policy and wear custom designed cleats (shoes) that support different charitable causes of their choice. Each pair of cleats are then auctioned off with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the charity of that players choice. The ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign was introduced in 2016 as a result of players being fined over the years for using their uniforms as a way to highlight and support causes that they believe in. The success of the campaign last year convinced the NFL to bring it back for 2017, and last week around 800 players from the league participated.

I was overjoyed to see that sickle cell was there amongst the hundreds of other wonderful causes, so I thought it only right that I shine light and share with you all a few of the amazing players that were promoting sickle cell awareness.

 

Chris Banjo – New Orleans Saints

“For this weeks #MyCauseMyCleats I am proud to bring awareness to Sickle Cell Anaemia. Not only has this disease taken the life of my mother but has also affected the lives of many. To all my Sickle Cell Warriors…I encourage you to stay strong and to continue fighting…”

Jerry Attaochu – Los Angeles Chargers

“My cleats support my own charity @gloryshopefoundation which helps tackle sickle cell disease; something my sister and countless others suffer from.”

Jason McCourty – Cleveland Browns & Devin McCourty – New England Patriots

“We will be representing our Tackle Sickle Cell Campaign with @embracekidsfoundation

Jordan Mills – Buffalo Bills

Mills’ chosen charity is the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, in honour of his Nephew who has sickle cell.

Also supporting the sickle cell cause was linebacker Nic Harris who has the sickle cell trait, and former player Rodney Harrison who supports the Sickle Cell Disease Program at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

So, people are using their voices and platforms to raise awareness for conditions such as sickle cell and it’s beautiful to see.

The next time I watch the Super Bowl, I’ll be feeling quite proud.

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In Sickness and in Health…

Dear future husband,

Thank you for having the ability and strength to make the promises you have made to me. Most people may not consider the meaning of such words, but you would have already admired me at my best, still loved me at my worst, kept me going in sickness and appreciated me in health.

Thank you for sticking by me and not breaking my heart after 5 years, because it took you that long to realise that maybe my sickle cell was too much for you to handle, and you didn’t want me to be a burden to your life.

Thank you for not seeing me as anything less than ‘normal’, and for not conjuring an idea that there are somehow things you would be able to do with someone else that you would never be able to do with me.

Thank you for being my rock through a recovery I thought would be impossible, instead of implying that somehow you being there for me would stop you from living your life.

Thank you for not draining my strength, and then mocking my weakness at a time when I was most vulnerable.

Thank you for not using my health as an excuse to not say or do something that’s really on your mind.

Thank you for all the times you have been willing to put in the work when I’ve been too tired to put it down like i do.

Thank you for accepting me, flaws ‘n’ all, and for your patience and understanding throughout our partnership.

Thank you for not allowing sickle cell to get in the way of our Love.

Truly Yours.