Tackle Sickle Cell

5 04 2012

Benched just like that, no arguments with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, two-time Super Bowl champ Ryan Clark was forced to sit out of a crucial game in their 2011-2012 post-season.

“The last time Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ryan Clark played a game in Colorado, he nearly died, the Associated Press reports, highlighting a series of health scares that led to this week’s decision by coach Mike Tomlin to bench the 32-year-old safety during this Sunday’s (January 8, 2012) wildcard game in Denver.” (via Huffington Post)

But this isn’t a case of celebrity vanity, nor a situation confined to just one man.

This health scare is Sickle Cell Trait, referred to as SCT by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is closely related to the more widely know Sickly Cell Disease (SCD), which is more severe.

Diagnosed in 2007 after the aforementioned game in Colorado, it was found Ryan Clark has SCT. What he experienced in the Rocky Mountains was a “pain scare,” which can be caused by low oxygen levels, dehydration, high altitude, and increased atmospheric pressure (and no, not the pressures of being a Pittsburgh Steeler during playoffs!)

While it’s obvious those factors are involved when playing NFL-caliber football in Colorado – especially in winter – it’s not such an obvious affliction to the 1 in 12 African Americans that inherit SCT, or the roughly 100,000 Americans (info via CDC) with SCD.

That’s why Ryan’s fellow teammate, and Richmond, Virginia native James Farrior, decided to do something to help. Not being a doctor himself, he was able to pair up with the VCU Medical Center’s Sickle Cell research teams to help raise money and awareness.

From this, there is a way for anyone to get involved and help Tackle Sickle Cell on April 27th. This event is at the Richmond Marriott Downtown. Not only will there be food and fun for everyone, but is also your chance to meet James Farrior and Ryan Clark!

For more details, please visit the event page here or the Foundation’s page here!

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