We made it! The 2014 Sickle Cell Warriors Gathering is now officially over! Thank you so much for everyone who has attended and made this experience phenomenal. Lakiea & I hope that you found it extremely informative, educational, inspiring, and supportive.
There are so many people to thank, so we are just going to dive right in.
First, we would like to extend much gratitude to Mr. Dan Moore, Sr. at Marrow for Life, Inc., for his invaluable advice, support, and encouragement through the last few years. If you live in Atlanta, please visit the APEX Museum! It’s an amazing experience focused on African-American heritage.
Next, we would like to thank the 12 courageous people that came on the cruise with us last year. It was a phenomenal adventure, and we had so much fun! Going to the Bahamas gave us all a vacation, a time to relax, a unique bonding experience, and memories for a lifetime. They were the Alpha class, and part of the reason this year was so great is because Alpha class let us work all the kinks out with them. Plus, they helped us so much with the planning for this year.
We would also like to thank all our volunteers for taking the time to help us make this a success. Jennifer, Mia, Busayo, Doris, L’Bonnee, Angeline, Jacquelyn, Jessica, Adeya, Tamika, Julie, Justin, and James. Many hands truly make light work. There is no way we could have pulled this out without your support and assistance.
The next set of thanks goes to all our wonderful panelists, advocates, and presenters. Thank you for your patience, flexibility, smarts, and enriching everyone through your experiences and education. Thank you for sharing with us everything you have, opening your lives, education, and knowledge with us, so we could all benefit. For those of you that we called to moderate or speak right on the spot (Andrea, Marcus, Ulysee, & Tamara), thanks for saying YES! Everyone gained something because of you, even those who said only 1 sentence! (you know who you are!)
Thank you to all our contributing sponsors especially Eli Lilly & Company, bluebird bio, and Selexys Pharmaceuticals. We learned so much about the new sickle cell research, and we thank you for being so open to share your clinical expertise with everyone. My mind was so blown and speaking with you all. This renews my hope and trust that we will have better sickle cell treatment options, and hopefully a universal cure in our lifetime. Shoutout to the World of CocaCola (noone was dehydrated that weekend! We had enough Dasani water and Vitamin Water to last us all week, and that helped so much!). To our vendors thanks for sharing your knowledge and resources; Angel with the CillyCell book, Mia with her SC swag, Hope for SCD with all the information, and the Bone Marrow Registry. Rafael and Orion, thanks for all the excellent video and photography work. We have hours of footage, and over 500 photos to sort through which are forever reminders of the excellent Gathering.
Congratulations to the winners of the annual Sickle Cell Warriors Community Leadership Awards. Thank you to all who nominated, voted, judged, and helped us choose the sickle cell heroes of our generation. They Dr. Abdullah Kutlar (Health Care Professional Leader), Mr. Dan Moore (Sickle Cell Advocacy Leader), Aaron Washington (Warrior Princess 2014), and L.W. (who was not at the event but will be honored separately (Sickle Cell Advocacy Leader). Announcements will be posted later.
The idea for the Gathering, and the driving force behind everything has been Dr. Lakiea Bailey. If you see her, make sure you give her a hug and a pat on the back. Job well done! She turned this from an idea to an actual live annual event, and I’m in awe of her energy, vibrancy and strength. If not for Kiea, the Gathering would have been cancelled a while back due to low initial interest, but she literally pushed, pulled, prodded, and lifted, until it became everything you saw this weekend.
Thank you to our families, especially our moms and sisters. They are the wind beneath our wings (yeah, cheesy but true). We couldn’t do half the things we do if they were not backing and supporting us constantly. Thanks for helping us every step of the way. Lakiea & I both apologize for talking non-stop about the Gathering for the last 6 months, but at least you have a few months break before the cycle starts all over again!
Where would we be without our attendees? We would just have great planned programs, and no one to share them with! So thank you to everyone that attended, especially those who fully participated in every aspect of the Gathering. Thank you for trusting us, for making the financial commitment, for coming and spending the weekend with us. We had 13 attendees Day 1, 45 attendees on Day 2, and 98 attendees for the Day 3. I’m trying to be neutral and not mention your names one by one, but I adore each and every one of you, especially Brandon C.!!! Shoutout to the Warriors Quad, Dr. Nwose (still can’t believe you did the Scavenger Hunt!), Dr. Krupa (thanks for going to the hospital with our warrior who fell sick), the Canadian Warriors, the Warrior Couples, Warrior Moms, Warrior Parents, Warrior Men, Warrior Sister Friends 4 Life (which I totally want to be a part of), and everyone who showed us so much trust, support, and warmheartedness. Your contributions helped make this an educational event for all!
We hope that this continues to be an annual event, and gets bigger and bigger every year. Don’t forget to vote on where next year’s events will be! Once you are settled, start posting pictures online asap, and tag us #sicklecellGathering or #sicklecellwarriors #Iwasthere #ScavengerChampions #sux2bu #LoveaWarrior #I’mAwesome #IDareto…pretty much your favorite parts of the weekend, so we can all relive this experience. Plus, it will make those who didn’t come utterly jelly haha;)
As always, please visit us on the website www.sicklecellwarriors.com where we will be posting pictures, comments, videos and updates about this and other events that Sickle Cell Warriors, Inc. are planning.
The next Gathering is going to be on July 16-20, 2015, so start planning and getting ready for it.
So long, thank you, and we hope to see you next year at the next Gathering!
Tosin & Lakiea