PRSSA raises awareness for sickle cell disease


Imagine trying to fulfill a need in the community, but not having the adequate resources to do so. The South Central Pennsylvania Sickle Cell Council (SCPASCC) has been dealing with this issue for more than two years.

At the end of 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett cut funding for the Department of Health State Grant by 33 percent, totaling a loss of funding for the SCPASCC of $50,000. This decrease in funding has proven to be a challenge in the SCPASCC’s ability to serve its 26 counties in south central Pennsylvania.

In Shippensburg University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), a committee has been created to aid in raising awareness and funding for not just the SCPASCC, but for sickle cell disease as well.

What exactly is sickle cell disease? Sickle cell disease, or sickle cell anemia, is a blood disorder with the red blood cells. It is the No. 1 inherited blood disorder. Sickle cell disease is found all over the world but mainly in people whose families came from Africa, Greece, Italy, Turkey, India, South America and Central America.

Generally red blood cells are circular and move freely through the blood system. A sickled blood cell is shaped like a crescent due to containing abnormal hemoglobin. They tend to be sticky, so instead of flowing freely through the blood system they tend to get stuck and block the blood flow to essential vessels and organs, causing pain, organ damage and the risk of infection. There is not a known cure for sickle cell disease, but there are treatments patients can take.
PRSSA’s sickle cell committee has kept this in mind when developing its plan of action for the semester.

“I feel that sickle cell disease is not talked about as widely as cancer is, for example. I think students have a limited knowledge on sickle cell disease, and I’m hoping that by being on this committee I can spread awareness of sickle cell anemia throughout campus,” committee memeber Danielle Adams said.

The committee will be seen around campus handing out informational pamphlets, brochures and fact sheets on sickle cell disease. It will also be conducting surveys to analyze how much awareness SU’s campus has on the disease.

A great way for SU students to get involved with the committee’s efforts is to not only make donations and accept informational pamphlets, but to bring up sickle cell disease in conversations with friends and family, and to see how much others know about it.

“The best way to spread an idea, or advocate for a cause is communication. We hope by getting these conversations started that we can gain fresh ideas from students on ways to keep a constant presence on campus,” committee member Bobbi Phelps said.

The committee’s main goal is to get that conversation about sickle cell disease started, and to have it flowing for the semester and beyond.

If anyone is interested in participating with the committee or has any questions, please feel free to contact Laura O’Donnell, committee leader, at

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