Sickle Cell Dinner

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Not even heavy tropical storm like rains could dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who came out to attend Sickle Cell Dinner and Extravaganza 2014 at the downtown Hilton in St. Petersburg last Saturday evening.

Mistress of ceremonies Rene Flowers welcomed everyone to the event that celebrated the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), St. Petersburg Chapter’s 38th year of service to the Tampa Bay area. The evening got underway with the smooth jazzy sounds of the Taabu Band as people poured into the ballroom from the thunderous wet weather outside.

After everyone joined to sing the first verse of the Negro National Anthem, Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomlin read the proclamation from the mayor’s office declaring September as Sickle Cell Month in St. Petersburg.

Mary Murph, President of the St. Petersburg chapter of SCDAA, addressed the audience by thanking all the local organizations, civics groups and the community at large for contributing to the organization’s success. She then introduced Sickle Cell Poster Child of 2013-15, Neema Pitts, to the audience as they gave her a standing ovation.

Murph gave Neema a hug and thanked her for being an excellent ambassador for SCDAA.

“Although she has had some challenges this year, she has won two school awards, so we’re very proud of her,” said Murph.

After a three-course dinner, 16-year-old saxophone phenom, Kenneth Goolsby, Jr., from Lakewood High School graced the audience with a solo, and community service awards were handed out. This year Dr. Brett R. Bolhofner and The Weekly Challenger were awarded with this prestigious honor.

The association’s objectives are to promote, educate, develop and improve public understanding of sickle cell disease and the sickle cell trait. Also to participate in activities designed to lend economic, psychological, social and emotional assistance to individuals and/or families affected by sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.

Programs and services are provided by the Community Outreach Coordinator, Myron Mill, a certified sickle cell educator is available upon request to provide free sickle cell educational presentations to community groups, organizations, health professional, schools, etc. Programs available to sickle cell clients and families are family support group, scholarships, educational programs, genetic counseling, Christmas activities and gifts.

They are located in the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center, 1344 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg. You may contact them at 727-896-2355 or stpetesicklecell@verizon.com, website: www.sicklecellstpete.com

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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