Living with sickle cell disease

Bathesheba Benson, a sickle cell warrior, keeps her eyes on the future

Bathesheba Benson knows hope and pain more than most. Known as Sheba, she’s among the estimated 100,000 people in the United States living with sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease turns soft and round red blood cells into hard and crescent-shaped cells that clump together, reducing blood flow.

Sheba’s first sickle cell crisis happened when at home in New Hope, Minnesota. She was just five years old and had a stroke. It was then that her family learned she had inherited the sickle cell trait from both of her parents.

“My parents kind of knew because I would swell up. They knew something was wrong, but they didn’t know I had sickle cell,” she says.

“I want to see the world. There’s so much to do. ” – Sheba Benson, a sickle cell warrior

Now thirty-seven years old, Sheba knows well the challenges facing ‘sickle cell warriors’ who shape their days, weeks, and years into a life that prevents pain and reduces crises to the best of their abilities.

Sometimes a crisis can’t be prevented. Certain factors, like extreme cold, elevate risks. Even something quite ordinary, such as five-minute walk to a nail salon, can ignite the spiral.

“Oh, my goodness, it’s so hard,” she says. “I have to plan life out ahead of time. I have to double think about my decisions that I take in life.”

One decision – staying in college to study childcare – came to halt when she was twenty-one years old. She suffered a second stroke. The event also triggered a bout of depression so she went with her mom to visit relatives in Ghana. 

“I feel healthier once I get blood in my system – I feel brighter, stronger and healthier – you can see it in my face – my sister says ‘you look better’.”

Sheba Benson – Sickle Cell Warrior

“I was depressed there, too, because I wasn’t doing anything and not going anywhere. So, I decided to come back to Minnesota,” she says.

A critical, lifesaving treatment through all of this is blood transfusion. Red cell transfusion increases oxygen in the blood, boosting her immune system and reducing a severe pain crisis, stroke or other life-threatening conditions. Sheba’s transfusions have been numerous throughout the years, including more intensive apheresis therapy.

“They always transfuse me when my hemoglobin is low. Sometimes they give me an apheresis transfusion when I’m very very sick. They place a tube in my neck or groin area, and then hook me up to a big machine where they exchange blood,” she explains.

The transfusion transforms her in moments.

“I feel a lot lot better, like instantly – I feel stronger instantly – I feel healthier once I get blood in my system – I feel brighter, stronger and more healthier – you can see it in my face – my sister says ‘you look better’.”

“I feel healthier once I get blood in my system.” – Sheba Benson receives blood transfusion when she has a sickle cell crisis.

Sickle cell warriors like Sheba rely on blood donors for this crisis mitigating and lifesaving therapy, which could be needed any day of the year. Finding a blood match beyond well-known blood types like A, B and O is essential.

The hardship of finding a match lessens with a more diverse blood supply. The most likely matches are with donors who are Black. And because blood compatibility decreases with each transfusion, ongoing diversity from new and regular Black donors makes the difference for Sheba and other sickle cell patients.

“My blood bags always have Red Cross on it,” she says. “Please donate because it really goes along way – it helps me, it helps other patients out there. If I could donate, I would donate. Please go out there and donate if you can.”

When feeling well, meaning her pain is okay, Sheba holds her gaze on happiness, especially being with her friends and family. Meeting new people brings her joy, too.

“I want to see the world. There’s so much to do. My dream for 2022 is to stay out of the hospital and travel more. The ocean is my peaceful place. I want to be on the beach somewhere!”

To learn more about sickle cell disease, click here. To find a donation appointment, click here.

Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross. Photos provided by Sheba Benson

“The Essential Meaning of Resolve”

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary has several meanings for the verb ‘to resolve’. We’re most interested in number two.

This time of year, many people reflect back and look ahead, taking stock, so-to-speak, of gains, losses, regrets, successes and failures during the past year, and then planning ahead for change: how they want to be or what they want to do (or not do) going forward.

They ‘resolve’ to do things differently. They, like the second definition of the verb in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, decide “to make a definite and serious decision to do something”. With that in mind, resolutions appear to be earnest undertakings requiring at times deep effort and commitment, resiliency to work through or overcome obstacles on the way to fulfillment and, perhaps most of all, offer profound feelings of purpose once accomplished.

We encourage these undertakings even during times of great challenge like, for example, a global pandemic. As you prepare your list of resolutions for 2022, we ask that you consider taking up one or more of those listed below and making your choices a habit in the new year and the years ahead. We promise to be there with you all the way – sleeves up, hearts open, all in.

Volunteers make up 90 percent of our Red Cross workforce. New dedicated and trained volunteers are always needed to maintain response capacity for providing disaster relief, delivering lifesaving blood, supporting military families during crisis, and other critical roles. In-person and virtual opportunities are available in multiple lines of humanitarian services. We’ll train you and together we’ll do the rest. Become a Red Cross volunteer.

Blood donations are needed every day to help patients. This could be a patient who needs around 100 units following a car accident or a patient in cancer treatment or sickle cell crisis who needs transfusions to continue treatment or ease debilitating pain. Platelets are also essential, especially for people in chemo treatment. We provide nearly 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. This essential service relies on regular donors. Become a Red Cross blood and/or platelet donor.

Money, as they say, doesn’t grow on trees. (Thankfully, because we much prefer leaves on trees.) Every dollar counts when it comes to providing relief following tornadoes, hurricanes, other natural disasters and home fires. We’re proud that an average of 90 cents of every dollar we spend is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need. We see first-hand the gratitude from those who welcome help when they need it most. Become a Red Cross supporter.

For inspiration, we turn to Suzanne Sudmeier, one of our disaster health services volunteers. Reflecting upon Clara Barton, our American Red Cross founder who was born 200 years ago, Suzanne she feels honored to continue Clara’s legacy of easing the suffering of others.

I am always in awe of people who have the foresight, courage and energy to be trailblazers for the sake of humanity. Certainly, Clara Barton is one of those people. I can only imagine the personal sacrifice she took upon herself to be true to her principles and vision.
I live such a comfortable life – even when deployed we cannot compare any of our discomforts to those she must have faced. I honestly do not know if I could ever do what she did – but I am privileged to be a follower.

– Suzanne Sudmeier, Red Cross disaster health services volunteer and registered nurse based in central Minnesota

Dedicated Red Cross worker retires after 46 years

“It was a nice feeling that I could be there to help someone in their time of need. ” – Nancy Rogers

Nancy Rogers is passionate about the mission of the American Red Cross and helping veterans.

Rogers, a former longtime employee of the Red Cross serving northern Minnesota, has spent nearly her entire professional career assisting military members, their families and Red Cross volunteers. In July, Rogers retired after 46 years with the Red Cross.

Her former supervisor, Dan Williams, executive director of the northern Minnesota chapter, called Rogers’ appreciation of Red Cross volunteers and veterans “unmistakable.”

Her famous chocolate chip cookies weren’t the only reason people were drawn to her, according to Williams.

“I think (Rogers) took it that people were thankful for her cookies, but really what they were thankful for was her hospitality; her welcoming nature; her wanting our volunteers or partners to be there,” Williams said.

Rogers started working as a receptionist for the Red Cross, but over the years she took on other duties, such as disaster relief services and casework for military families. The northern Minnesota chapter, which is based in Duluth, serves several counties in Minnesota and along the Wisconsin border.

Nancy Rogers retired after 46 years with the Red Cross. Submitted photo.

Rogers said she enjoyed the Red Cross’s Services to the Armed Forces work she was involved in, including providing support to military families during deployments and emergencies.

“It was a nice feeling that I could be there to help someone in their time of need,” she said.

She is also a guardian for the Honor Flight Network, which transports American veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit veteran memorials. She also goes on the flights in honor of her late father, who was a World War II veteran.

“You can tell my heart is with the veterans,” Rogers said, adding that she’s been on five Honor Flights.

Despite retiring, Rogers is continuing her work with the Red Cross as a volunteer, organizing the Holidays for Heroes Program, which involves collecting holiday cards and gifts for veterans and military members.

Rogers said she’s committed to the vital work of the Red Cross because she believes in the organization’s mission: to help people in need.

“I believe in the mission of the Red Cross and everyone does a great job at helping folks in fires and the military and all that. We’ve got everybody covered,” she said.

Story by Blair Emerson, American Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region. There are many rewarding career opportunities supporting the Red Cross humanitarian mission. Start your search here.

Keeping her promise to save lives

Three months ago, Jenapher Blair made a promise to give blood. After being on the receiving end of blood donation following the birth of her child, Jenapher hoped to become a blood donor herself.

Feeling a little emotional and filled with anticipation, Jenapher and her husband Steve arrived for her appointment at an American Red Cross blood drive in Hutchinson, Minn. on Nov. 9. “I’m wondering where my blood will go and who it’s going to help – I’ll be watching my blood donor app to follow the journey of my donation,” said Jenapher.

First-time blood donor Jenapher Blair rolled up a sleeve at a Red Cross drive on Nov. 9, 2021.

In just a little over five minutes, Jenapher’s donation was finished and she proudly held her blood bag close to her heart. “Wow, I can’t believe how quick that was – it’s such a great feeling to know that I’m going to help make a difference for someone, just like the people who’s blood I received did for me and my family!”

Jenapher Blair holding baby Adalyn with her husband and children.

Everything was going well…until it wasn’t

Following the birth of baby Adalyn in July, Jenapher started to hemorrhage and was losing blood quickly. It was a matter of life and death. Doctors couldn’t control her bleeding and the nearest blood was 80 miles away. The hospital called the Red Cross and in-turn the Minnesota State Patrol was immediately contacted to help rush four units of type O-negative blood to the hospital.

The lifesaving blood was delivered in just 65 minutes. Doctors told Jenapher “we were on borrowed time while waiting for the blood to arrive” and that she would not have survived had the blood arrived even minutes later.

Grateful and giving back

Jenapher left the blood drive pumping her fist in the air with excitement and thanking everyone in the room for giving the gift of life.

“Paying it forward doesn’t stop here for me,” she said. “It’s more personal. I want to be an example for my kids. We want to do our part and spread the word about the need and help get the numbers up because I realize how important it is to have blood available – if I hadn’t received the blood I needed, things could be very different.”

An exuberant Jenapher Blair after donating blood for the first time.

Jenapher, Steve, and their kids are also gamers who are raising funds through Mission Red, the official gaming and streaming charity program of the Red Cross. Learn more here or join their fundraising campaign TheOasisFam.

“The more we can do to be advocates for the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross, the better!”

Story by Sue Thesenga, American Red Cross. To find a blood drive near you click here.

St. James showing thanks through blood donation

On Thanksgiving Day, people from St. James and surrounding areas will continue their annual tradition of showing thanks through blood donation. This blood drive, now in its 17th year, collects the most blood of any American Red Cross Thanksgiving Day community-sponsored drive in the U.S.

“It’s really amazing that our annual Thanksgiving Day blood drive is the largest in the country!”

Diane Dannen, St. James resident and long-time Red Cross blood program volunteer.
2020, Red Cross phlebotomists collected nearly 200 units of lifesaving blood at the annual St. James Thanksgiving Day Blood Drive. Photo credit: American Red Cross

The drive will take place on Thursday, Nov. 25, at the National Guard Armory, 521 Armstrong Blvd. N., from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. This year, more than 50 Red Cross staff and volunteers will be on hand to help run the drive. Donors of all blood types – especially type O – are urged to make an appointment to help overcome the current blood shortage.

“This blood drive comes at a critical time for the Red Cross,” says Leah Pockrandt, Executive Director for the American Red Cross serving Southwest Minnesota. “It’s essential to shore up the nation’s blood supply as we move into the holiday season, especially while we have an ongoing national blood shortage.”

Rolling up a sleeve on Thanksgiving morning has become a holiday tradition for many over the past 16 years – collecting nearly 3,200 blood donations that have helped ensure a stable blood supply over the holiday season. Keeping on with the tradition, all presenting blood donors will be thanked with an exclusive pair of Red Cross holiday socks and a pumpkin pie courtesy of SuperFair Foods, while supplies last.

“It’s really amazing that our annual Thanksgiving Day blood drive is the largest in the country!” says Diane Dannen, St. James resident and long-time Red Cross blood program volunteer. “We should be very proud that our community continues this tradition and gives back in such a meaningful way. I’m incredibly thankful for everyone who makes giving the gift of life a priority during the holiday season.”

“We are thankful for the giving spirit of the St. James community who have made this Thanksgiving Day blood drive successful year after year. Blood donation is essential to ensuring the health of our communities, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need,” adds Pockrandt.  

Not in the St. James area on Thanksgiving? Healthy individuals who are feeling well are urged to make an appointment to donate blood this holiday season. Find a convenient blood drive near you by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.  

From Army Correspondent to Red Cross Volunteer – A 48-Year journey

Military veterans have a critical role in their local communities, often times continuing to serve in both small and large ways.

Take the example of David Schoeneck who uses skills he learned early in his career to continue serving through the American Red Cross. In September 1964, while a freshman in college, he began working as a reporter and photographer for his hometown newspaper – the New Ulm Daily Journal in southern Minnesota. Four and a half years later, after graduating from Minnesota State University in Mankato, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

He served a tour of duty with the 4th Infantry Division in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, first as a combat correspondent and later as editor of the Division’s weekly newspaper, The Ivy Leaf. He returned to the U.S. and was discharged in July 1970.

Veteran David (Dave) Schoeneck served a tour of duty with the 4th Infantry Division in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. Submitted photo.

Back in civilian life, Schoeneck worked in public relations and communications as a manager and director for a number of Minnesota-based corporations. Upon retirement in 2002, he was approached by a long-time friend, David Therkelsen, who was serving as executive director of the Red Cross St. Paul Chapter.

“David explained to me that the Red Cross had very important public affairs activity during disasters, as well as on-going public affairs needs,” Schoeneck said. “I had been actively involved in community affairs as part of my work, and working with the Red Cross very much appealed to me.”

Since joining the Red Cross 20 years ago, Schoeneck has been involved in local public affairs responses, supporting countless home and apartment fires, floods in various parts of Minnesota, four tornado responses in the state and six national deployments. He has worked as a Red Cross public affairs service associate, supervisor or manager for Hurricanes Irene, Sandy, Mathew, Harvey and Florence, as well as during the eastern Washington state wildfires.

Since joining the Red Cross 20 years ago, David Schoeneck has been involved in countless national and local public affairs responses during disasters. Submitted photo.

In 2015, Schoeneck was invited to join the Red Cross National Advanced Public Affairs Team (APAT). More recently, he was selected to join the Red Cross North Central Division’s Disaster Resource Management Team (DRMT), which provides qualified and experienced management teams to supplement local resources when larger scale disasters occur.

“The fundamental principles of the Red Cross – humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality – appealed to me,” Schoeneck said. “It fit very well with my belief that everyone needs to give back to the community and serve others. Working with the Red Cross also allows me to use the skills I have developed over many years in a very positive way.”

“The Red Cross is an amazing organization. It aids victims of home fires and other smaller disasters on a local level, but also comes together when needed to answer the call for large scale disasters such as Hurricanes Florence and Michael,” Schoeneck noted. “In addition to disaster services, the Red Cross has a long-standing role in providing service to our Armed Forces.”

David Schoeneck – Red Cross volunteer for 20 years. Submitted photo.

“I have met and been privileged to work with wonderful people from all over the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada who, as part of the Red Cross, respond to disasters. Their spirit of service and dedication is very inspiring. Many of the Red Cross volunteers I have met are also veterans who continue to serve their country and community, long after their active military duty ended.”

A version of this story originally was published on the Red Cross Chat. To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities, click here.

Thankful for Red Cross, thankful for each other

Two volunteers begin anew together after meeting on disaster deployment

Few people can say they met their beloved while helping people seeking refuge from a wildfire. Among them are Danielle Rodgers and Rod Winters – two American Red Cross volunteers.

They met in 2018 during one of the worst years for wildfires in California’s recent history. That year the Red Cross responded to multiple wildfires in the West.

Red Cross volunteers Rod and Danielle.

Danielle was new to the Red Cross. She’d just left her professional nursing role after 27 years when she got the call for her first major disaster relief deployment.

Rod was an experienced volunteer who was called to deploy in his regular role managing shelter relief for people displaced during disasters.

Both were sent from separate and distant states to the California mountain town of Weaverville – the “belly of the beast” as Danielle describes it – to help people affected by the Carr Fire. There, they met for the first time at the co-ed shelter for disaster responders.

“I just thought he was a really nice guy,” Danielle says upon reflection.

She’s referring to his exceptional ability to focus on people – strangers from all walks of life – who need help during some of the most difficult days of their lives. “I just couldn’t imagine where people like him came from.”

The Seattle area, it turned out, and known for asking shelter workers, especially those facing the powerful experience of their first national deployment, ‘why are you here?’.

Weaverville, California, where Red Cross had a shelter for people seeking refuge during the 2018 Carr Fire evacuations.

“Deployment can be extremely uncomfortable, rough conditions, hard,” Rod says now and said, in similar words, then. “Did you come here to take care of people? Focus on the purpose – be clear on your own motivation – deal with some hardship.”

He provided insight and context that helped Danielle navigate an intensity of situation many, including an experienced nurse, could find challenging their personal grit and resiliency.

“The first couple of days are always – be cool, deal with the first couple days until you get your assignment – then things settle out. Thankfully she stayed,” he says.

Their Weaverville deployments came to end. “We both went home and went about our lives,” she says.

“It just kind of deepens as you go along,” says Rod. “It was a fortunate meeting for us. I’m very lucky to have this wonderful woman.”

Danielle and Rod in Weaverville, CA, for their wedding ceremony.

This year they married. For their wedding, they returned to Weaverville and had a small ceremony at Trinity High School, which gave them use of a courtyard, chairs and a table. “It was perfect,” says Danielle. When friends and family asked, ‘why there’, she told them about the impact the town had on them and the perspective it provided.

While there for their wedding, two wildfires started raging. Roads were blocked just like the year they met. “It was difficult to see and hear,” Danielle remembers.

They didn’t have their Red Cross responder gear. But if they’d had it, it’s likely they’d have turned their celebration into doing everything towards alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross. Photos provided by Danielle and Rod.

Let’s Kick Cancer’s Butt

Blood donors can help ‘Barrett the Brave’ and other children with cancer

Barrett has needed multiple blood and platelet transfusions during cancer treatment.

“Today my baby’s health was improved because someone gave blood,” wrote Abby Gregory on June 4 in his CaringBridge journal when Barrett received his first transfusion. This was a couple months after she found “a lump the size of a grape” in her son Barrett’s cheek this spring.

The lump – in a muscle – is a rare and serious form of pediatric cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Barrett – not yet two years old when diagnosed – started several weeks later on a brutal treatment plan of chemotherapy, radiation, and possibly surgery, over a 12-to 14-month period.

“We’re fighting for his life, which is still hard for me to wrap my head around,” says Abby.

Part of this fight for a boy “who loves trucks, shovels and his mom and dad” has involved multiple, hours-long transfusions of red blood cells and platelets during a time of shortages across the country. Both are often critical for giving lifesaving strength and time to patients enduring aggressive treatments against cancer.

Barrett’s first transfusion was the day before his second birthday – when he was in the hospital with his platelets and red blood cell counts too low. “It was overall fairly simple but, for some reason felt extra scary to us. But I guess all of this is scary,” says Abby.

“Barrett the Brave”

In October, Barret completed 28 proton radiation treatments and during this time he’s needed more lifesaving transfusions. He’s a brave boy experiencing great physical suffering, but “he’s keeping us smiling even through the pain,” says Abby.

Abby holds Barrett during chemo.

Barrett will need more transfusions to keep his red blood cell count high enough for more chemotherapy treatments during the coming months.

Grateful for blood and platelet donors, Barrett’s mom encourages people to donate or host a blood drive. Witnessing her son’s bravery, Abby asks for others to donate blood or platelets to help “kick cancer’s butt.”

Visit redcrossblood.org to schedule your blood donation appointment.

Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross; Photos courtesy of Barrett’s family. Visit Barrett’s CaringBridge journal here. #BraveBarrett

Every second counts during a cardiac arrest. Students and adults can save lives by knowing how to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Take the example of Dickinson High School student Anika Sayler in North Dakota. She learned CPR during her freshman PE 9 class. Learn more about the class and Sayler’s response to an emergency from a story published in The Dickinson Press in last spring.

Story and photos by Jackie Jahfetson, The Dickinson Press

When a Dickinson teen stumbled upon the scene of a rollover crash on April 19, she immediately hopped out of her vehicle and rushed over to one of the individuals who was lying on the ground and unresponsive. Though another person who arrived at the scene before her was performing CPR, she knew that it was not the correct way she was taught in her freshman PE 9 class. So she mustered the confidence to take over and save that man’s life.

With a short video from the American Red Cross, a Dickinson High School freshman performs CPR during Tina Pavlicek’s PE 9 class Friday, April 23, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press) 

Though Dickinson High School junior Anika Sayler noted in a previous article that she never believed she’d use those skills she learned her freshman year, it was evident that the course is teaching students with valuable and natural instincts.

For Dickinson High School teacher Tina Pavlicek, who’s been teaching PE 9 for the past 14 years, hearing Sayler’s lifesaving story was inspirational.

“I personally enjoy teaching it because I feel like it’s such valuable information,” Pavlicek said. “… (Sayler’s story) gave me a really great feeling knowing that she used something that she learned in our freshman CPR course and had the confidence to do that and save that man’s life. I got emotional telling the class about it because it’s really a great thing.”

PE 9 is a required course for all Dickinson High School freshmen that is taught by Pavlicek and DHS teacher Tom Gray. The CPR unit consists of a 10-day lesson plan with seven chapters, with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays focusing on CPR, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are gym activities. Stretching the material into different days allows for students to retain the information, Pavlicek said, adding that she does not want the course to be an information overload.

Chapters one through four highlight the “before giving care,” which includes CPR, using automated external defibrillators and handling choking situations. Toward the end of the nine-week quarter-long course, students will study sudden illnesses, such as diabetic emergencies, seizures, strokes and allergic reactions, and learn how to deal with burns, external severe bleeding and injuries to muscles, bones and joints. The final chapter covers heat- and cold-related illnesses and other environmental emergencies such as poisonings, bites and stings.

“Usually we’ll do a reading of a chapter out loud; there’s video clips through the American Red Cross that we’re required to show throughout the reading. And then we get the mannequins out and they get to do the hands-on portion as well,” Pavlicek said. “So they get to hear it, they get to see it and they get to practice it, which I feel is a good way to hit all of the learning styles.”

A freshman student at Dickinson High School walks through the tutorial of CPR Friday, April 23, 2021, during PE 9 class. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press) 
Utilizing skills learned through Dickinson High School Tina Pavlicek’s PE 9 course, freshman students perform CPR on mannequin Friday, April 23, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press) 

This course teaches people to handle stressful, emergency situations, and it’s something that will stick with DHS freshman Isabel Kirsch.

“(This helps) knowing what to do under pressure (and if) you see something happen really fast. Before I wouldn’t really know what to do, I’d just panic. But I know what kind of steps to follow,” Kirsch said. “I think (when) you’re at the age where you can start taking care of younger kids more or your grandparents (and) if something were to happen, you’ll know what to do.”

DHS freshman Jake Skabo has learned over the course of nine weeks the basic signs and symptoms of knowing when and when not to perform CPR.

“(I’ve enjoyed) working on the mannequins out there because I like to do hands-on learning,” Skabo said.

Once students finish the course, the American Red Cross requires that all students have to pass all six tests with an 80% or higher and perform all of the skill portions of the class. Students then have the option at the end of the program to pay $32 for a CPR card and become certified, which is good for two years until recertification.

With usually around 50 students each quarter, five to 10 students pay to get their certification. Though Pavlicek doesn’t encounter a large number of students who want to get CPR certified, she noted that at least students will still be trained in it.

“Just like Anika’s story, you never know when you’re going to be in a situation where you may need it. It may be a family member, it might be a stranger along the roadside that needs your help. It’s just a lot of information or giving them the confidence to be able to respond in an emergency situation if it occurs,” Pavlicek added.

This story was originally published on April 26, 2021. It’s re-published here with permission from the The Dickinson Press. Thank you! We encourage all who are able to learn basic lifesaving skills. Learn more here.

Fall 2021 Sickle Cell Initiative Blood Drive

Our profound thanks to everyone who supported our Sickle Cell Initiative blood drive on September 25 at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in North Minneapolis. We had a great turn out – collected 51 units! Many thanks to Sickle Cell Initiative local partners and sponsors, including HealthPartners, Sickle Cell Foundation of Minnesota, Black Nurses Rock Twin Cities Chapter, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Epsilon Rho Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and KMOJ. A diverse blood supply every day helps sickle cell patients in crisis. Learn more.

One of two Red Cross buses, including the regional fleet’s newest, supported the blood drive. In total, 55 people, including 17 new donors, presented to donate. 51 units were collected on the two buses.
Precious, a new Red Cross volunteer and a recent college graduate, checked in donors as they arrived throughout the day at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in North Minneapolis.
Twin Cities Red Cross board chair, Dr. David Hamlar, helped plan the drive and donated blood. “There’s more work to do,” he says. We’re grateful for his ongoing support for this long-term initiative.
Epsilon Rho Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity helped organize the blood drive and encouraged people, especially first-time donors, to roll up a sleeve for sickle cell and other patients in need of blood transfusion.
Community partners like Rae (l) with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Minnesota and Beverly (r), a Red Cross volunteer who’s also with Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, are critical for blood drive success.

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