By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
The Central Texas Sickle Cell Anemia Association hosted its 28th annual fundraiser telethon Sunday at the KWKT-TV Fox 44 studio in Waco and at the Shilo Inn in Killeen.
Between noon and 6 p.m., local entertainers and sickle cell disease patients offered on-air appeals for donations, which totaled $15,103.
The Waco-based, all-volunteer association helps about 600 Central Texas children and adults afford prescriptions and treatments for sickle cell disease, and offers educational and outreach services to the public and families affected by it.
Members had hoped raise about $30,000.
Association volunteer Eleanor Sims said the association is still accepting donations through its website and is planning another upcoming fundraiser.
Shoemaker High School sophomore Kierra Buckley, 16, helped out at the Shilo Inn and appeared on the live broadcast. She's suffered from sickle cell anemia since she was born, but is more sick at certain times than others.
"It's painful," she said of the common deep leg cramps she experiences - sometimes so painful that she wants to cut her legs off.
Her mother, Triscina Berry, said it's hard not to be able to take that pain away.
"My heart goes out to all the parents (of children with sickle cell)," she said. "All we can do is comfort and soothe them, do things we've been taught by medical teams."
Sickle cell anemia and related diseases affect entire families, telethon volunteer Lezlie Edwards said.
Edwards helped answer phones at the Shilo Inn in support of her nephew, who she said suffers from the disease.
She carries the gene and was lucky that her children were not born with the disease, she said. "I even felt (cautious) about getting married."
According to information from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc., sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that affects red blood cells. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that become hard and pointed, or sickle-shaped, instead of soft and round. Sickle cells can block small blood vessels, leading to tissue damage and strokes. Sickle cells also cause anemia, pain and many other problems.
There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease, of which there are several variations, including sickle cell anemia and sickle cell thalassemia. The average life expectancy of someone with sickle cell disease is about 40.
Treatment of complications often includes antibiotics, pain management, intravenous fluids, blood transfusion and surgery.
The national association estimates that more than 70,000 Americans have sickle cell disease. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year in the United States.
To donate to the Central Texas Sickle Cell Anemia Association, go to www.centexsicklecell.org. For more information, call the assocation's office at (254) 752-3441.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.
Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.