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'It was a sudden death' : Upcoming 5K walk, blood drive set to honor 7-year-old girl who lost battle to sickle cell anemia in 2015

“We need to be aware that this disease is here and real."

BEAUMONT, Texas — In honor of a little girl who lost her battle to sickle cell anemia, two non-profit organizations are working together to raise awareness and hopefully save lives.

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Sickle cell anemia is a blood disorder which causes red blood cells to contort into a sickle shape and break down.

The disease forever changed the lives of Lettite Buxie and her family. In 2015, Buxie's 7-year-old granddaughter, Janiyah, lost her battle to sickle cell anemia.

“It was a sudden death, very unexpected, and as a result, there was a need for sickle cell awareness," Buxie said.

Credit: Lettite Buxie

Buxie started the non-profit organization "Janiyah's Love" to raise awareness about the disease. In the years since Janiyah’s death, Buxie has spoken to schools, clinics and churches to share the message. 

Buxie is always looking for more support. One of her goals is get the Southeast Texas community to take action and help. 

"This is the only disease that no one participates with, nobody donates to, nobody brings to the surface because it's hidden,” Buxie said. 

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, Janiyah's Love is partnering with LifeShare to host a walk and blood drive in honor of Janiyah. "Janiyah's Love Annual Sickle Cell Walk" will be held at 200 Crockett Street in Beaumont. 

A LifeShare bus will be parked on Crockett Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. A 5K walk will start at 8 a.m.

Alison Smith is an account manager for LifeShare. She is encouraging the community to go to the event and support the cause.

“We need to be aware that this disease is here and real,” Smith said. “We are going to honor this little lady on the 17th of September. I hope that they all can come out and donate and do the walk with us."

Sickle Cell Anemia affects thousands of people. However, a lot can be done to fight the disease.

Buxie and Smith believe going to Saturday's event is just one small way community members can help prevent the loss of another young life.

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