December 19, 2023
Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia Executive Director Tabatha McGee Blasts NBC’s Saturday Night Live Skit as Blatantly Insensitive
Sickle cell disease is a serious and debilitating condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is not a joke, and it is not something to be taken lightly. That's why we were appalled when we saw the recent skit on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (Dec. 16) that made fun of those living with this condition. It was not only distasteful but also blatantly insensitive, and it only served to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is not something that affects people of African descent only. And people with sickle cell disease understand the recent medical breakthroughs just as anyone else does. After all, they are the ones living with the pain that sickle cell causes. Let us never trivialize a landmark moment in medicine that could save lives in the years to come.
We cannot stand by and allow this kind of ignorance and insensitivity to go unchecked. That's why we are calling on Kenan Thompson and the producers of Saturday Night Live to apologize to the sickle cell community for their hurtful and offensive skit. We urge them to take this opportunity to become advocates for proper understanding and awareness of this condition.
At the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc., we are committed to supporting those affected by this disease and advocating for better treatment and care. We cannot do it alone, and we need your help. Join us in the fight against sickle cell disease and stand with us in demanding respect and dignity for all those living with this condition. Together, we can make a difference and bring about positive change.
Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia
Dexter Chambers: 404-755-1641 ext. 237 or at email@example.com
December 19, 2023
President Joe Biden Honors Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia Executive Director Tabatha McGee
with Lifetime Achievement Award
ATLANTA – Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia Executive Director Tabatha McGee has been awarded the prestigious Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her 6,000 hours of volunteer service to the nation.
Signed by President Joe Biden, the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award honors those in our nation who exhibit outstanding character, and a strong work ethic, and demonstrate an immense dedication to their communities through service. The Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award is a high honor.
McGee was honored for her service as a U.S. Army Veteran, for her Community Service, Leadership and Mentorship, and Non-Profit Management.
“I am deeply honored and it’s something that I never expected,” McGee said. “To me, community work is not just a job, it's a way of life. It's about coming together to make a positive impact on the world around us, to lift each other up, and to ensure that everyone has access to the resources such as proper healthcare and opportunities they need to thrive. Whether it's volunteering at the Sickle Cell Foundation on day one or advocating for the expansion of Medicaid under the Gold Dome, I am always looking for ways to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
A letter accompanying the Award reads:
The American Story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. I congratulate you on taking it upon yourself to contribute to the public good, and I’m proud to present you with the President’s Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of your 6,000 hours of service to this great Nation.
Throughout our country’s history, the American story has been strengthened by those who combine an optimism about what can be with the resilience to turn that vision into reality. I know I’m not alone in
recognizing that those who are willing to step up and volunteer in service of the community and country are essential to the ongoing work of forming a more perfect union.
By sharing your time and passion, you are helping discover and deliver solutions to the challenges we face – solutions that we need now more than ever. We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. Through your service, you are providing all three.
On behalf of the American people, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to you for your volunteer leadership, and I encourage you to continue to answer the call to serve. The country is counting on you.
J R Biden
As SCFG Executive Director, McGee has made significant strides towards the success of the organization, including the opening of a new wellness center in the first quarter of 2023, expanding their laboratory to provide more extensive testing options for individuals living with sickle cell, and securing groundbreaking grants from the State of Georgia and the federal government of $2.2 million. Additionally, her accomplishments include a partnership with Grady Hospital, which allows them to identify and work with children diagnosed with sickle cell, a week-long camp sponsoring over 150 kids suffering from the disease, and tirelessly advocating for legislation to advance treatment and support of those suffering. She has grown her staff by 50% over three years, broadening support and care across Georgia.
FDA Approves Two Breakthrough Gene Therapies to Treat
Patients with Sickle Cell Disease
For Immediate Release: December 08, 2023
The Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia responded to today’s approval of two new gene therapies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is a debilitating disorder that affects millions of people globally, causing excruciating pain, stroke, deadly organ damage, and other complications due to the malformed cells.
The FDA approved two milestone treatments, Casgevy and Lyfgenia, representing the first cell-based gene therapies for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD) in patients 12 years and older. Additionally, one of these therapies, Casgevy, is the first FDA-approved treatment to utilize a type of novel genome editing technology, signaling an innovative advancement in the field of gene therapy, according to Friday’s announcement. Casgevy, a cell-based gene therapy, is approved for the treatment of sickle cell disease in patients 12 years of age and older with recurrent vaso-occlusive crises. Casgevy is the first FDA-approved therapy utilizing CRISPR/Cas9, a type of genome editing technology, according to the FDA.
“We were anticipating the approval of one cell-based therapy today but to have two approved is remarkable,” said Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc. Executive Director Tabatha McGee. “We still are cautiously optimistic because of the costs and unknown long-term side effects. With the Casgevy therapy, we are looking at a $1.2 million procedure. Who will pay for it? Medicaid, private insurance, the struggling patient, or big pharma?
CRISPR/Cas9 can be directed to cut DNA in targeted areas, enabling the ability to accurately edit (remove, add, or replace) DNA where it was cut. The modified blood stem cells are transplanted back into the patient where they engraft (attach and multiply) within the bone marrow and increase the production of fetal hemoglobin (HbF), a type of hemoglobin that facilitates oxygen delivery. In patients with sickle cell disease, increased levels of HbF prevent the sickling of red blood cells, according to scientists.
Lyfgenia is a cell-based gene therapy. Lyfgenia uses a lentiviral vector (gene delivery vehicle) for genetic modification and is approved for the treatment of patients 12 years of age and older with sickle cell disease and a history of vaso-occlusive events. With Lyfgenia, the patient’s blood stem cells are genetically modified to produce HbAT87Q, a gene-therapy derived hemoglobin that functions similarly to hemoglobin A, which is the normal adult hemoglobin produced in persons not affected by sickle cell disease. Red blood cells containing HbAT87Q have a lower risk of sickling and occluding blood flow. These modified stem cells are then delivered to the patient, scientists say.
Both products are made from the patient’s own blood stem cells, which are modified, and are given back as a one-time, single-dose infusion as part of a hematopoietic (blood) stem cell transplant, according to an FDA news release. Although the cause of the disease has been known since 1949, treatments were slow to emerge. In 1998, the FDA approved the first drug to treat sickle cell anemia, the most common form of sickle cell disease. This drug, called hydroxyurea, is effective in some but not all patients.
Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc. (SCFG) Announces the
43rd Sickle Cell 5K Road Race/Walk
Annual Fundraiser will Culminate with a FREE Outdoor Concert and Candlelight Vigil in downtown East Point. Race/Walk starts at 5PM
ATLANTA, GA [July 6, 2023] — Early bird registration for the 43rd Sickle Cell 5K Road Race/Walk is now open. Participants who register now through July 31st will receive a $5 discount and a guaranteed souvenir T-shirt.
The charity fundraiser takes place at 5PM Saturday, September 9, 2023, in beautiful downtown East Point on a 5K route starting at East Point City Hall, 2757 East Point Street, East Point, GA 30344.
“We are excited to have the Sickle Cell Race/Walk become an evening event with a new feature this year and that is, our after-race concert,” said SCFG Executive Director Tabatha McGee. “We want this event to be a true family affair so come out to enjoy the race, the concert and delicious food from the numerous food trucks that will be onsite.”
The after-race concert will feature soulful music and good times by Atlanta recording artist Joy Anderson and band in the city hall quadrant. Lawn chairs are welcomed. A candlelight vigil will also take place in memory of family and friends we have lost.
The Sickle Cell 5K Road Race/Walk is a popular, charity race recognized as one of Georgia’s longest, consecutively running road races. Since its inception, it has supported the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia’s Camp New Hope, a weeklong medically supervised camp for kids and teens living with sickle cell disease. The race/walk is an official AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifying Event. SCFG is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocating for and serving children and adults with sickle cell and other abnormal hemoglobin. SCFG offers affordable, mobile and in-person adult medical services, sickle cell testing, specialized care coordination, educational opportunities, and food assistance.
Today, African Americans and people of color are disproportionately impacted by Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) which unfortunately is characterized by pain episodes and severe organ damage that can lead to early death.
To register for the 2023 race/walk charity fundraiser, visit www.sicklecellrace.com. Enter discount code Earlybird for $5.00 off until July 31st.
Dexter Chambers, SCFG Director of Communications
Phone: 404.755.1641-Office / 404.640.1844-Cell | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org