HERO: Tampa woman wants to be 'voice for sickle cell'

By Bill Murphy, Everyday Hero Host
Last Updated: Monday, October 02, 2017, 10:26 AM EDT

Working a full-time job, being a college student and dealing with sickle cell has not slowed down Cecelia Mitchell. 

She is the founder and president of The Hands of Hope Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation. 

Mitchell formed the foundation in 2013 due to two family members who were struggling with the disease. 

She also said the foundation helps serve a need because many people don't know much about sickle cell disease. 

"I saw the need to bring sickle cell awareness to the community because a lot of dark are in the dark about the disease," Mitchell said. "They don't know that the disease not only affects African-Americans but it affects other races too."

The disease can cause:

  • High fevers, prone to infection
  • Strokes
  • Loss of hearing, cause blindness
  • Heart attack

Mitchell carries the sickle cell gene and has battled the disease as well. She said her goal now is to be the voice of Tampa's sickle cell community. 

Her organization hosts numerous fundraisers, including an annual fashion show with families dealing with the disease acting as models. 

She especially wants to help younger people dealing with the disease. 

"Just live your life to the fullest," she said she advises people. "Don't let sickle cell stop you. Just do it and if you tried and didn't succeed at that, try something else. 

"Don't let this disease control you. You control the disease."