Devyne Stephens, camper Eriq Scott, T-Boz and counselor Jessica Smith
Atlanta, GA- August 7, 2009- Yesterday, Atlanta-based entertainment mogul and CEO of Upfront Megatainment, Devyne Stephens , visited Camp Twin Lakes, with T-Boz of TLC fame. Camp Twin Lakes Camp is a not-for-profit organization that offers year-round recreational, therapeutic, and educational programs for children facing serious illnesses and other physical, emotional and life challenges. Each week the camp focuses on a particular illness and offers a haven for young people from 6-16 giving them nutritious meals, lots of activities and medical staff to insure the youngsters’ safety.
This week Camp Twin Lakes focused on children with sickle cell anemia. T-Boz is a sickle cell sufferer. Devyne and T-Boz spent time with the children and met one young woman, in particular, with an interesting story.
Jessica Smith, now 21, came to Twin Lakes when she was 7. Growing up in South Carolina in a community where she was the only person she knew with sickle cell, Jessica felt isolated and ostracized. When she arrived at Twin Lakes, imagine her surprise and relief to meet someone else, an entire bunk full in fact, of other children with the same illness. At Twin Lakes, she had found a family. Many of these children don’t want anyone to know they have sickle cell outside of camp. Jessica grew up at Twin Lakes, eventually becoming a CIT (counselor in training) and is now a full fledged counselor. Last year, she gave birth to her own daughter who also has sickle cell anemia. Jessica is now thinking about what she wants for her daughter and that includes a place like Twin Lakes.
Sickle cell anemia is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, affecting about 72,000 Americans or 1 in 500 African Americans, with 1 in 12 African Americans carrying the sickle cell trait. In the United States alone, those diagnosed with sickle cell anemia total approximately 8,000 per year, 666 per month, 153 per week and 21 per day.