By Ashley Conroy - email
GOODMAN, MS (WLBT) - This weekend is all fun for about 40 children ages 6-14 from across the state. They are taking part in the 13th annual "Sickle Cell Stars" camp at the Holmes County State Park.
It's sponsored by the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation, and organizers say the goal is to teach these youngsters more about their disorder and how to live a healthy life.
"It just is amazing at how fast they get acclimated here. And they just fall in and they just love it," said Co-Director of Sickle Cell Stars, Nancy Tharp.
The camp took off from the Jackson Medical Mall on Thursday with not only camp leaders, but a full medical staff from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Dr. Mary Smith, a Hematologist and Oncologist from UMMC says the overall goal is to encourage these kids to look forward to the future.
"We want them to focus on, just like any other person would focus on a career, because we believe they can do it," Dr. Smith said.
In addition, Smith says one of the most important factors that goes into treating sickle cell disease is to stay hydrated.
She says often kids have to undergo blood transfusions once a month.
Camp counselor, Cardarius Ward, started coming to Sickle Cell Stars 7 years ago, and now he decided to take on a leader ship role.
"Most of all the kids look up to me more than they do a lot of people," Ward said.
He continues to play big brother for many participants and hopes to learn more about the disorder every time he comes back.
"Every time I come they'll have different things teaching us about sickle cell," Ward said.
Dr. Smith says there are several types of sickle cell disease. It's a genetic blood disorder, and affects mostly African Americans and Asians.