Three years ago, Dr. Monica Bhatia came to our office and told us she had a family in the clinic that had starting fundraising for Sickle Cell Disease, but needed a charity partner to help, and would we like to meet them. The answer- of course! Little did we know that meeting Jayden Salomon and his family would turn into such a great partnership. Jayden’s mom, Jessica, is a tireless advocate and fundraiser in the Sickle Cell community, and we are thrilled and honored to be a part of their story. Their annual Sickle Cell Walk is coming up on September 17th. Check out the Q&A with Jessica below to learn more about their experience with SCD and their event:
Jayden Solomon and his brother, Justin, who donated his bone marrow to help cure Jayden.
How did you come up with the idea for the Sickle Cell Walk?
When I moved up to the Hudson Valley area from the Bronx, I was searching for a local walk in the area and I didn’t find any at all. I’ve always had a passion to do something for the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) community and families, and that’s when I said I am going to host, and coordinate the very first SCD walk in the Hudson Valley area, so that families like mine affected by SCD did not have to travel into the city for a walk. My passion was driven by my son Jayden, a SCD warrior and survivor, and the strength of all families living with SCD.
What motivates you to do this event year after year?
Knowing that this walk can touch a family or child suffering from Sickle Cell Disease is what pushes me every year. Each year I say to myself, if I can reach one family, I reached my goal. It’s almost my favorite part of the event- meeting new people, and meeting families affected by SCD. It’s so special to see the community get together for this cause.
Why do you partner with Hope & Heroes?
Because of the work that Hope & Heroes does at Columbia, where Jayden has his life saving bone marrow transplant. I am also very grateful for the work they put in as well in helping me get this event together.
Was there a reason you chose to bring Jayden to Columbia for treatment?
When I was told Jayden needed a bone marrow transplant, his hematologist referred me to Columbia, and Dr. Bhatia. The first day I met Dr. Bhatia I knew I was at the right place, and with the right doctor. She was and still is the most compassionate doctor we’ve ever met, and I felt as if she treated Jayden as if he was her only patient. I knew from day one, we were at the right hospital for his BMT- and I was right!
What is the number one thing/message you would want to share with the Sickle Cell community?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I know first-hand that Sickle Cell Disease is not a “common” disease so a lot of people don’t know about it, and that makes you feel isolated. I felt alone, and I wanted to change that. I want families affected by SCD to know that even though my son Jayden is cured, SCD is still with us and a big part of our lives. This drives my passion to spread awareness and get people together to educate them about this disease. Jayden has fought the SCD fight, and we as a family want to help other families fight the fight too!