North Alabama Sickle Cell Foundation Bringing Awareness to “Forgotten Disease”

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Sickle cell affects people daily, but advocates say that it's often considered a "forgotten disease". One non-profit is working to change that and one woman's efforts in particular, aren't going unnoticed.

WHNT NEWS 19 recevied a nomination about the North Alabama Sickle Cell Foundation's Executive Director, Pamela Thompson. Here's a snippet of the email Wendolyn Crutcher-LaFleur sent us:

"Knowledge of one's sickle cell trait status is perhaps the most effective way to reduce the incidence of the disease. Pamela commits her time and energy to promote awareness and support local clients."

When our cameras showed up at the North Alabama Sickle Cell Foundation in downtown Huntsville, Thompson was in a back office working, but we had a good reason for her to take a break - $319 in cash.

That money is critical to the non-profit organization's survival, since it doesn't receive any state funding and relies on fundraisers, like its annual Walk-A-Thon. Donations help those dealing with the disease.

"It helps with transportation to UAB Hospital if they need to go, with housing, with rent, with medical assistance, with dental assistance," explains Thompson. "Those are the funds we use."

Money is also needed for research.

"This disease is still here," says Thompson. "There's not enough research being done. We call ourselves the hidden disease or the unknown disease. This disease has been around since the early 1900s and we're still searching for a cure."

Thompson is grateful for the Pay it Forward cash and any donations they receive from the public.

"They're just beautiful," says Thompson. "We appreciate all the support and help that we get. We really appreciate this."