On the field, twin NFL defensive backs Devin (New England Patriots) and Jason McCourty (Tennessee Titans) often compete, but off the field these brothers have joined forces for a cause that hits close to home. Inspired by their aunt, the McCourty Twins are bringing awareness to sickle cell disease through their “Tackle Sickle Cell” campaign.
“Growing up, when I was younger, I knew my aunt had a disease, but I didn’t totally understand what she went through and everything involved,” Devin shared in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org. Devin recalls their aunt’s strength and it wasn’t until they were much older that they began to see her different struggles and the complications of the disease. Seeing the direct impact sickle cell was having on her life inspired them to bring awareness and help as many people as possible with sickle cell.
Through their partnership with the Embrace Kids Foundation, the McCourty’s Tackle Sickle Cell initiative is a platform to help them increase awareness, educate and raise funds. Signature events include a 5k walk, casino nights and blood drives. “If we can just keep raising awareness and getting more people involved they can realize this is a serious disease and the more people that are helped and the more that know about it and donate to it, the better it can be.”
According to the CDC, sickle cell disease affects as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. and occurs in nearly 1 out of every 500 African-American births. The twins were tested for sickle cell at age five because their father carried the trait. Although both tested negative, Devin shares that learning about the disease helped him to offer better support to his aunt and his uncle, who also has sickle cell disease. He encourages people who have friends and loved ones with the disease to also become more educated to offer support.
For parents raising children with sickle cell disease, Devin shares that being involved with sports doesn’t have to be off limits. “If you can’t play, it doesn’t mean you can’t be involved, or it doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it. Whether that’s going and being on a team and being a player/assistant coach for the team and learning about whatever sport it is.” Sickle disease doesn’t have to sideline children; they just have to move at their own pace.
In recognition of Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the McCourty twins released a new PSA video that you can check out above. If you would like to join the fight to tackle sickle cell, visit their website http://www.tacklesicklecell.org, donate blood at a local drive and continue to spread awareness that sickle cell disease affects more people than we may think.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Sickle Cell Anemia center for more articles.