Sick Cells is a sickle cell disease (SCD)-focused advocacy organization co-founded by Ashley Valentine and her late brother Marqus. Sick Cells’ mission is to improve the care and quality of life for people living with SCD, including ending the stigma of SCD, by shaping public policy and educating the SCD community as well as society overall.
Sick Cells began as a small film project highlighting the life of the Valentines. Marqus was born with SCD, a chronic blood disorder, and his condition has impacted his entire family. The Valentines wanted the public to see and understand how a person and their family lives with SCD day-to-day. Through years of work, they realized a responsibility to share not just the Valentine’s story, but that of the entire SCD community. Sick Cells became a 501(C)(3) nonprofit in 2017 and has had many accomplishments since, such as being featured in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, winning the Red Cross Heroes Award in 2019, and being invited to the White House to be part of a historic roundtable event in 2020.
Sick Cells’ Programs:
- Faces of SCD Storytelling Program – Sick Cells captures and shares the stories of people living with SCD and their families. We tell stories to expand awareness about life with the disease to eliminate stigma and highlight the resilience and the diversity of the SCD population. In 2020, Sick Cells introduced 25 new faces and published 12 blogs. To date, the team has interviewed over 200 SCD advocates.
- Ambassador Program – The Ambassador Program is a volunteer network of advocates dedicated to changing the landscape of SCD. Sick Cells has 47 ambassadors as of the beginning of the year and is always growing. Through two meetings a month, shared tools, and one-on-one mentoring, Sick Cells empowers the SCD community to advocate for policy and legislative changes that allow robust access and improved quality of care to all people living with SCD.