Ericka Lassiter and Tamiko McKenzie saw the effects of sickle cell disease in their own families, an impact that moved these leaders of the Off the Field™ Players’ Wives Association to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude, which leads the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer, also has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell disease programs in the country.
Off the Field is an organization for the wives of current and former National Football League players that has raised more than $60,000 for St. Jude. In 2013, the organization became a national partner in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer.
Lassiter, president of Off the Field, and McKenzie, its treasurer, both have sons with sickle cell disease. In 2013, McKenzie’s son KJ underwent a successful bone marrow transplant to cure his sickle cell disease, and Lassiter's son, Kwincy, had the same procedure this summer. In 1983, a St. Jude patient was the first person in the world to be cured of sickle cell disease through a bone marrow transplant.
Off the Field member Beverly Lofton, wife of Hall of Famer, James Lofton.
“When Off the Field got involved with supporting families with sickle cell, it was very meaningful to me because I see the difficulties and adversity we go through,” Lassiter said. “Working with St. Jude, the name they have in the sickle cell community, the research and work they have done, and the amazing work they continue to do, it was a win-win for us.”
Off the Field has a chapter in every city with an NFL team. This September, that network will once again tap into their local communities to support and fundraise for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, which takes place in 61 cities nationwide.
“This hospital is so imperative,” McKenzie said, noting that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. “If you have a heart, the walk is something you will want to give a dollar to or participate in. To only have to care about the health of your child, and St. Jude takes care of everything else? You can’t get that anywhere else.”