Veteran Seattle Seahawk wide receiver Bobby Engram will help kick off the first of what organizers hope will become an annual walk around Seward Park to benefit children with sickle cell diseaseand raise awareness of the affliction.
The walk and fund-raiser will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at Seward Park, 5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S. The event features speakers, information on sickle cell as well as several Seahawk players signing autographs.
Day-of-walk registration begins at 9:15 a.m. Participants will receive T-shirts, goodie bags, healthy snacks and beverages. The walk begins at the south entrance of Seward Park and goes once around the peninsula.
Engram, whose 8-year-old daughter, Bobbi, has sickle cell disease, will talk about his family's experiences and the need for greater awareness and understanding of the disease.
"A lot of people in our community don't have a lot of information or knowledge about the disease." Engram said. "I'm trying to use my notoriety to bring some awareness to the sickle cell disease."
Engram and his wife, Deanna, were both unaware they carried the sickle cell trait until Bobbi was born.
"I think it's important people support this because it's basically a silent disease that affects the minority community. I'm trying to get the minority community to open up, talk about it and bring awareness to adults as well as kids," Engram said.
"It's a good cause and it's going towards helping kids who have to deal with a tough issue in life."
Engram reached out to Odessa Brown Children's Clinic for his daughter's care and wants to give other kids the opportunity to receive the best treatment possible.
"I wanted to see what I could do to help other kids that are going through it that might not have all the resources that I have at my disposal," he said.
The Engrams will be joined by other families as well as medical professionals dedicated to drawing attention to a disease that afflicts more than 70,000 Americans and an estimated 1,000 newborns each year.
Sickle cell is the most common genetic disease in the United States. It is an inherited condition that affects the hemoglobin, or oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells. Normal blood cells are round like doughnuts, and they move through small tubes in the body to deliver oxygen. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky and crescent-shaped, and don't pass through small blood vessels the way normal donut-shaped cells do. Instead, they can clog or break apart. This can cause pain, damage and a low blood count, as well as anemia, organ damage and other complications. There is no cure for sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell is prevalent in many ethnicities, including African Americans, Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Latin Americans and people from India. A simple blood test, called hemoglobin electrophoresis, can be performed by a doctor or local sickle cell foundation. This test will indicate who is a carrier of the sickle cell trait and who has the disease. Most states now perform the sickle cell test when babies are born.
"Sickle cell trait" refers to a person who carries one sickle hemoglobin-producing gene — inherited from his or her parents — and one normal hemoglobin gene.
Proceeds from the Sickle Cell Walk will be used to send children to Camp Burton, a sickle cell camp on Vashon Island, and to fund the Gertrude Dawson college scholarship for young people with the disease. At Camp Burton, which is free for children, around 50 kids annually get the chance to do everyday camp activities as well as learn about their disease with daily education sessions. The camp has a full medical staff that volunteers its time.
The free to register for the walk is $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and youth age 17 and under. For more information and to register for the walk, call 253-872-0487 or visit www.acteva.com/go/scwalk.
The walk is hosted by the Metropolitan Seattle Sickle Cell Task Force, a private, nonprofit group that supports individuals and families with sickle cell disease. Other sponsors include the Northwest Sickle Cell Collaborative, Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, Mary Bridge Children's Clinic and Shades of Synergy.