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Special Section:
Sickle Cell Disease

"Be Sickle Smart!"

Ruben Studdard

Singing star and former American Idol winner Ruben Studdard wrote the song,"I Am a Fighter," which has become the official anthem for the Be Sickle Smart campaign.
Photo courtesy of Ruben Studdard

Singer Ruben Studdard fights for those with sickle cell disease

Recording artist and former American Idol winner Ruben Studdard has made the fight against sickle cell disease a part of his personal and professional life. He has been active in the national Be Sickle Smart community program.

How did you become interested in sickle cell disease?

My mother has long been an advocate for our local chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) and was active in getting our community church involved in raising awareness of the disease. As a result, I have been aware of the hardships of patients–especially African American patients–suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD), including a serious and under-recognized condition called iron overload.

What has been your approach in raising public awareness of sickle cell disease?

I've made it my goal to do what I can to help people suffering from the disease by participating in the Be Sickle Smart program to inspire and empower them to take action for their health and be screened for iron overload due to blood transfusions. Be Sickle Smart is a community-health program that educates people with SCD about iron overload. I encourage everyone to join me in this effort to support families who are affected, and bring national attention to SCD as a public health issue.

For those who don't know, many people with SCD receive regular blood transfusions to treat their disease, but may be unaware of the risk of iron overload due to these blood transfusions. It's important to educate people about these risks, because 70,000 to 100,000 people, primarily African Americans, are affected by SCD. However, public awareness and resources for SCD are low.

What specific activities have you been involved with in your sickle cell work?

I've made several appearances across the U.S. on behalf of the program, and I have penned an original song, titled I Am a Fighter, which became the anthem for those participating in Be Sickle Smart. My intention with the song is to inspire people with SCD to keep fighting and to take action for their health through education. (

To Find Out More

Winter 2011 Issue: Volume 5 Number 4 Page 16