UPDATE: This resolution has passed unanimously (Oct. 2).
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark is the subject of state Rep. Harry A. Readshaw's Pennsylvania House of Representatives Resolution 867, which would recognize Clark's contributions in the fight against sickle cell anemia.
Clark, a north Baldwin Borough resident, has been teaming up with the University of Pittsburgh's Vascular Medicine Institute to raise awareness and help in fundraising for research of the potentially fatal disease. Read more about that here.
In a news release, Readshaw, a Democrat whose 36th Legislative District includes parts of Baldwin and Whitehall boroughs, pointed out that Clark has suffered the effects of the disease in a very public setting. Sickle cell anemia has cost Clark his spleen and gallbladder, and it prevents him from playing in high-altitude venues like Denver's Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Sickle cell anemia affects 1 in 500 African-Americans and 1 in 900 Hispanic-Americans, the news release states, while 1 in 12 African-Americans and 1 in 16 Hispanic-Americans carry the trait in their genes. For those who are affected by the disease, red blood cells can become misshapen and have trouble passing through small blood vessels, which can lead to severe pain, organ damage and even death.
Clark said that, in addition to his own illness, his family has suffered loss due to the disease.
"The loss of my sister-in-law and my own life-threatening experience with sickle cell gave me insight into the intense agony people with the disease go through daily," he said. "I am proud that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is recognizing this issue."
Said Readshaw, "I salute Ryan Clark for using his celebrity to bring this disease to the attention of those who have never seen or experienced the symptoms. His recognition—both in Pittsburgh and around the NFL—will, hopefully, teach others about this horrible, painful and deadly disease."
The House is expected to vote on this resolution in the near future.
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