“It’s an awful disease:” Juneteenth celebration to include inaugural walk to benefit Sickle cell clinic

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MILWAUKEE -- This year's Juneteenth Day street festival will include all the excitement folks have come to expect during the past 44 years, but it will also feature something brand new -- something that could help make life more enjoyable for hundreds of people in southeastern Wisconsin.

Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day street festival always includes a party, but this year, it will include some education.

"Sickle cell disease affects such a significant number-- especially of the African-American population," Tyler Smoot said.

Smoot is with Milwaukee's Northcott Neighborhood House, which hosts the annual festival. He says the 44th annual Juneteenth Day will offer a unique opportunity for folks to participate in the ongoing effort to eradicate sickle cell disease.

"This year is the very first 'Walk To Break The Sickle Cycle.' That's what we're calling the walk to benefit those who are suffering from sickle cell disease," Smoot said.

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Alana Bentley is excited about the walk.

"A lot of people don't know about it in the first place, and with it being mainly an African-American disease, and it being, you know, a blood disease, it's not really talked about," Bentley said.

Alana Bentley

Alana Bentley

Money generated through the event will benefit the Sickle Cell Clinic at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

"It's an awful disease," Dr. Joshua Field said.

Dr. Field is the clinic's medical director. He says it's the state's only clinic dedicated to the care of adults with sickle cell disease.

"There are probably close to a thousand people in the state of Wisconsin who have sickle cell disease," Dr. Field said.

But Dr. Field says some 400 of them live in southeastern Wisconsin, and they could use the money generated by the Walk To Break The Sickle Cycle.

"This may be paying for, you know, the patient to get a ride here and there, the patient to get medicines they need. I mean, this is really gonna help the daily stuff that we do in this clinic," Dr. Field said.

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The walk begins Friday morning, June 19th.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Walk To Break The Sickle Cycle.