Columbia Native Spreads Awareness of Sickle Cell Disease

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gretchen Davenport and Deidra Webb posing for picture in Elements Coffee shop in downtown Columbia

Gretchen Davenport and Deidra Webb posing for picture in Elements Coffee shop in downtown Columbia

Deidra Webb, 9, of Columbia, was diagnosed when she was one year old with sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease has no readily available cure.

However, this has not stopped Deidra from turning her sickness into an opportunity to help others.

Deidra has received medical care at the Vidant Children’s Hospital and the Brody School of Medicine in Greenville.

When Deidra is not in the hospital she and her mother Gretchen Davenport have been raising awareness of the disease in Tyrrell County and the surrounding area.

The need to educate others about sickle cell disease came in part because Deidra wanted to help other children with sicknesses. Deidra realized that the other kids might not have support from family.

“She has been in and out of the hospital. She is usually in the hospital at least twice a year. Since going there and seeing what the other kids are going through, she just became compassionate. It was her mission and her goal that she wanted to do something. She chose the Ronald McDonald House as a place to donate money to as well as to Child Life. Child Life is a part of the outpatient facility. They provide activities and a camp that she attended for the first time this year,” said Gretchen in a Dec 23, 2014 interview.

Gretchen explained that campaign with the Ronald McDonald House came also from personal experience. Deidra observed the struggles her family and other families went through dealing with members being in the hospital for long periods of time.

“She was concerned for emergency occasions. When she has go out on the ambulance, we have to leave at the drop of a dime. I do not have time to prepare a bag for myself with toothpaste and lotions. Ronald McDonald House provides these things but it is on a donation basis,” said

Gretchen and Deidra raised money one way by making home-made key-chains during the month of September which is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

One earlier initiative involved a fundraiser at Creswell Schools in 2014.
Deidra wrote a letter to possible donors asking them for monetary support.

“I am writing this letter to inform you that I have been named an advocate for Sickle Cell Disease in Tyrrell County. This means that is my job and my goal to educate everyone in my county about this disease. My first community service project was performed in Chapel Hill Baptist Church, where I presented them with pamphlets and fans containing pertinent information about sickle cell disease,” notes Deidra in the letter.

Further in the letter Deidra mentioned that that part two of her advocacy is obtain donations to provide what is called a “Family Emergency Kit” to families who do not have time to prepare for an emergency hospital stay with their child. Deidra mentioned that the kits would contain items needed by family members that are no longer provided by hospitals.

A monetary goal of $500.00 was mentioned to reach by December 2014, for Deidra to make her presentation to the Vidant Women’s and Children Hospital during their annual Christmas party.

“That overall goal went really well. From Creswell, she raised $135.00 in cash. She raised $720.00 in cash donations for the Ronald McDonald House. She had $210.00 dollars in item donations. She donated that to the Ronald McDonald House. Also of this was collected during the month of September,” said Davenport.

Gretchen and Deidra took part in a ceremony on Dec 30 in Greenville where Deidra presented  the donation money raised for her campaign. One portion will provide supplies to the Ronald McDonald Hospitality Room at Vidant. The second will go to Brody’s Rainbow Services and Camp Hope, which both provides services to children with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders.

Deidra and Gretchen’s work is not done.

Others still need to be educated about sickle cell disease and how to fight it.

“We are getting our calendar events ready right now. Charmaine and my niece Tori will be helping also with plans to raise awareness around Tyrrell County and wherever we can about life-threatening diseases that affect our children.

Deidra and I have created these characters Robbie. The Red Blood Cell which will hopefully defeat the evil Simon Sickle Cell. I have several local artists that are going to be putting my design into production. Hopefully soon these designs will be a t-shirt and we will be selling these t-shirts,” said Gretchen

Deidra was also nominated on December 30 to possibly represent the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

“That nomination was sent in when she presented her money to the Ronald McDonald House and Child Life. That final nomination will not be decided until June who the poster child will be,” said Gretchen

Webb lives in the Travis Community on Chapel Hill Road.

To learn more about donation opportunities to the Ronald McDonald House, call 847-5435 or visit online   For more information about ECU’s Brody School of Medicine Rainbow Services, Camp Rainbow and Camp Hope, contact the Department of Pediatrics’ Hemotology/Oncology department at 744-4676