Answering the call

Herald/CHRISTINA KRUSE - Jerry McGrone, a member of Pride of Killeen 620, answers a call and takes a donation during the annual Sickle Cell Anemia Telethon Sunday at the Plaza Hotel in Killeen.

By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

Shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday, an hour before the annual Sickle Cell Anemia Telethon was scheduled to end, officials had tallied about $5,000 in Killeen's part of the annual Waco-based fundraising effort.

"It's significant, but less than we had hoped," said Ruby Graham, Killeen office manager for the organization.

She did not know Sunday how much had been pledged in Waco, where the telethon was aired from noon to 6 p.m. on KWKT-TV Fox 44 with both Waco and Killeen telephone numbers, but the total goal was $20,000.

About 10 phones in a bank inside the lobby of the Plaza Hotel were manned through the afternoon by members of fraternities and sororities and by members of motorcycle clubs, who also solicited funds outside the building.

Telephone workers said calls had been sporadic, coming in bunches between periods of silence, but said some donors had been very generous.

Ron Harrison of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity said that in his hometown of Columbia, S.C., a clinic devoted exclusively to sickle cell patients had recently been established and that he had a close friend, now 36, who had been told not to expect to live past 25.

"The quality of life we're able to provide for them makes a difference," he said.

The Sickle Cell Anemia Association tries to address any need caused by the disease.

"There is no cure for it," Graham said. "We always keep up hope that one will be found, but in the meantime, we try to do all we can for patients and their families. When a child has it, sometimes parents have to take off work without pay, and they need money. We help pay lawyers when someone is having difficulty with Social Security disability."

Before the telethon, she had mentioned helping with genetic counseling, help with buying medicine and medical equipment, rent and utility payments, and help with funeral expenses when people with the disease are barred from buying life insurance. She also said the association mounts public educational efforts.

She thanked telethon sponsors including local banks, Aflac and H-E-B. She said stores including Walmart, H-E-B and IGA Foodliner had sent supplies to the local telethon and that restaurants including Boston's, Hooters, Ryan's Family Steak House, Texas Roadhouse, Golden Chick, Buffalo Wild Wings and McDonald's had sent food and refreshments.

The Killeen office of the association can be reached at (254) 634-7600 or (254) 690-6060. The Waco office's phone number is (254) 752-3441. Donations can be sent year-round to Sickle Cell, P.O. Box 1705, Killeen, TX 76540.

Contact Don Bolding at or call (254) 501-7557. Follow him on Twitter at KDHbusiness.

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