The Black Student Union (BSU) put a twist on its annual Welcome Back Icebreaker Party, turning the student get-together into a fundraiser for sickle cell research.
The student organization donated proceeds from the door at the Aug. 31 event to Dayton Children’s West Central Ohio Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center. Members of the student organization presented $1,000 to Dayton Children’s representatives on Sept. 9.
The West Central Ohio Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, one of six sickle cell programs in Ohio and the only program in the greater Dayton region, provides services to infants, children and teens with sickle cell disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sickle cell disease is a serious disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. Sickle cells tend to block blood flow in blood vessels, causing pain and organ damage and raising the risk for infection.
In the United States, an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 people, mainly African Americans, are affected by sickle cell anemia. The disease occurs in about one out of every 500 African American births, and in more than one out of every 36,000 Hispanic American births.
Dana Graham, the BSU’s director of community engagement, said this was the first year the organization raised funds at its welcome-back party. The organization plans to create a new tradition and raise funds annually at the party for a local organization, she said.
“I believe that giving back to the community is something that is essential,” Graham said. “Community service is essential for fostering the growth of our youth and to secure a strong future for change in African American communities.”
“This is a great way to kick off our community programming for this school year,” said Jarrod Williams, BSU president. “The Black Student Union this year is focused on providing services to our students for academic success, career success and giving back to our community.”
The sickle cell fundraiser was one of two big community service efforts the Black Student Union has planned for this semester.
The organization will also raise funds for breast cancer research during the week of Oct. 14–19, culminating with the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk on Oct. 19.