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Finer Womanhood Week jumps off

In the United States, approximately 72,000 people have it and about 2 million people are considered carriers of it.

And yet many Americans have never even heard of sickle cell anemia.

The members of Zeta Phi Beta are working to change this. This week, as part of their Finer Womanhood Week, the sorority sisters are working to raise awareness about the disorder by hosting the second annual Jump-Rope-Athon.

Throughout the week, members of Zeta Phi Beta will be stationed in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union lobby, accepting donations for the event as well as signing up participants. Each participant in the Jump-Rope-Athon is expected to have sponsors to pledge donations. All proceeds from the event will go to the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association in Cleveland.

In addition to the Jump-Rope-Athon, Zeta Phi Beta is sponsoring The Jump-Off for Sickle Cell Anemia, the proceeds from which will also be donated to the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association.

“Sickle cell anemia is a disease that doesn’t get a lot of attention,” sorority member Danielle Whitmore said.

Although commonly associated with minority groups, anyone can have sickle cell anemia. The disease results from the sickle cell gene, which causes abnormal hemoglobin in a person’s red blood cells. The sickle-shaped red blood cells get stuck in small blood vessels, blocking blood flow. Sickle cell anemia is a genetic condition; both parents must be carriers of the sickle cell gene in order for the disease to appear in their child. Carriers, however, are usually unaffected by the gene.

Symptoms of sickle cell anemia include pain and swelling in the hands and feet due to blocked blood vessels, fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, unpredictable pain where blood cells block oxygen flow to the tissues, eye problems, yellowing of the skin and eyes, a vulnerability to infections, and stroke.

“People don’t actually know what it does to your body,” Whitmore said.

For sorority president Michelle Kirkwood, raising money for sickle cell anemia is a more of a personal cause. Her uncle, who had the disorder, died from it in the 1980s.

“It’s a cause I’ve been heavily involved in since I can remember,” Kirkwood said.

The Jump-Off for Sickle Cell Anemia will be held on Friday from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. at the Perry Fieldhouse. Admission is $5.

The Jump-Rope-Athon will be held on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center.

For more information about sickle cell anemia, visit the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association’s Web site at http://www.ascaa.org.

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