For a third year, the UT Physicians Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center is the presenting sponsor of the As One Foundation’s Darling Dash 5K, which is in its ninth year.
The As One Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by retired NFL star Devard Darling. The event will take place at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24 at Stude Park at 1031 Stude Street in the Houston Heights, a new location for the event this year. Registration for the event is underway.
“Not only does UT Physicians proudly sponsor this event each year, I take part in it and see the difference it makes,” said Andrew Casas, chief operating officer and senior vice president of UT Physicians. “We are spreading awareness for sickle cell disease and our center continues to grow to serve the needs in Southeast Texas. I look forward to it and hope to see everyone there.”
A former wide receiver for the NFL, Darling founded As One Foundation in memory of his identical twin brother, Devaughn, whose death was related to sickle cell trait. The 2019 Darling Dash marks the anniversary of Devaughn Darling’s death at 18 due to exhaustion and dehydration during football practice. Both Darling brothers carry the sickle cell trait, which can be fatal when paired with physical rigor and lack of hydration.
According to the American Football Coaches Association, sickle cell trait-related deaths lead the causes of death of collegiate football players. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease. The CDC states people with sickle cell disease have less access to comprehensive care than people with genetic disorders such as hemophilia and cystic fibrosis.
The dash will fund As One Foundation’s Operation Hydration. The training program educates student athletes, coaches, and staff about the correlation between sickle cell attacks and poor hydration. Proceeds will also go to the foundation’s scholarship program. “I know how terrible it feels to lose someone you love,” said Darling. “It pains me my brother’s death could’ve easily been prevented if we were more informed about sickle cell. Our goal is to prevent tragedies like this from happening through awareness and support.”
Registration is open through race day, with entry fees ranging from $25 to $40. The first 1,000 finishers will receive medals. The goal is to raise $50,000 and surpass previous fundraising efforts. There is also a virtual race option, for those who cannot participate in person.
Watch the highlights from the 2018 Darling Dash
ABOUT UT PHYSICIANS COMPREHENSIVE SICKLE CELL CENTER
UT Physicians Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center offers outpatient services for individuals with sickle cell disease. The center has an infusion suite, transcranial doppler ultrasonography, pediatric pulmonary services, adult cardiology, and dental services and accepts same-day visits and urgent walk-ins. Subspecialists, social services, and behavioral health services have all been added to the center for a holistic approach to patient care. The unique facility, located at 1200 Binz Street, Suite 850, is the only family comprehensive sickle cell center in Houston. UT Physicians is the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). For an appointment, call 713-486-5660.
ABOUT AS ONE FOUNDATION
The mission of As One Foundation is to educate and increase awareness of sickle cell trait while encouraging youth to achieve their dreams in the face of life’s challenges. On Feb. 26, 2001, Devaughn Darling lost his life due to sickle cell disease coupled with exhaustion during spring football practice at Florida State University. His identical twin brother, Devard Darling, persevered after the tragedy. He became an NFL star, but his most noteworthy accomplishment was founding As One Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring Devaughn’s life while elevating awareness of sickle cell trait.