In honor of National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness month we will be highlighting The B Strong Group, a local non-profit organization that spreads awareness of Sickle Cell Disease through education, advocacy, and empowerment!
Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen, break, and clot. Complications from these blood cells can cause less healthy blood to travel throughout the body, eventually damaging tissues.
The B Strong Group was co-founded by Brenda and Patrick Green. Brenda and Patrick are the parents of Braden Green, who was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Hemoglobin C Disease when he was three months old. Braden’s diagnosis came as a surprise to Brenda and Patrick, as they were unaware that Brenda carried an abnormal Hemoglobin C trait and Patrick carried the Sickle Cell Trait.
After learning about Braden’s diagnosis, Brenda spent years educating herself on how to best care for her son. She kept quiet about her son’s diagnosis because she felt a level of guilt, despite knowing that it was not her fault. Eventually, Brenda realized that she needed an outlet to talk about her experience with Braden, but she felt there weren’t many support groups available for parents with children who had been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease.
As time passed, Brenda continued to educate herself on Sickle Cell Disease. In 2017, she attended a Sickle Cell Disease convention that inspired her to start her own non-profit organization. By January of 2018, The B Strong Group was an established, fully functioning non-profit organization in Columbia, SC.
The B Strong Group’s mission is:
“The B Strong Group was created to support those with sickle cell disease and their caregivers in the Columbia area. We advocate for, empower and uplift our sickle cell warriors by spreading awareness of the disease, educating the community and engaging volunteers.”https://thebstronggroup.org/our-mission/
The B Strong Group partners with Prisma Health to help educate the greater Columbia community on Sickle Cell Disease. They work to foster relationships with families who have been affected by Sickle Cell Disease and help tend to some of their needs. This includes donating and delivering a variety of supplies to different individuals with Sickle Cell Disease. For example, Brenda learned that arts and crafts supplies were helpful when Braden was in the hospital, so she often sends arts and crafts to the children’s hospital. When parents are not in need of supplies for their child, Brenda will serve as a listening ear, something she needed and appreciated in the early years of Braden’s diagnosis.
Most importantly, The B Strong Group partners with the American Red Cross to host around three blood drives per year. Blood transfusions are extremely important to individuals with Sickle Cell Disease because they allow healthy red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the body while preventing blockages. The B Strong Group is working hard to educate the community on the importance of donating blood in order to diversify the blood supply. They are hosting a blood drive on September 19th between 10 AM and 3 PM at AC Flora High School. The link to sign up is https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?zipSponsor=sicklecellsc. Their goal is to have 50 new regular blood donors! They still have a little ways to go to reach their goal, so, if you are able, make sure to sign up to become a regular blood donor and encourage your friends and family to do the same!
The B Strong group is always looking for donations, blood donors, and volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about this organization, you can find their contact information listed below.
Links to more resources about Sickle Cell Disease:
The B Strong Group’s logo is a picture of Braden Green. Brenda chose this photo because of the joy it encapsulated. After a particularly terrifying stay in the hospital, in a moment of pure happiness, Brenda and Patrick captured this photo of their son jumping with joy. Brenda explained that the reason she chose this image is because it represents the one thing she’s always wanted, which is to see her son happy.