Difference maker

A true, heartfelt passion led an Arlington Water Utilities employee to create and run a nonprofit that will soon be featured nationwide in a commercial and documentary.

Kenya Buckley is an Arlington Water Utilities account analyst who simultaneously serves as Founder and President of Carol’s Promise Sickle Cell Foundation, an organization that was named Best Community Service Organization foundation in Fort Worth by a local business group in 2018. With a background in finance, a deep-rooted passion for Sickle Cell Disease, SCD, and supportive friends who had a similar passion, the nonprofit foundation was officially launched Aug. 7, 2017.

Kenya Buckley’s story will be part of the Generation S project, a national campaign started to help find a cure for Sickle Cell disease.

“It’s really near and dear to my heart,” Buckley says.

She began the process of forming the nonprofit in honor of her mother, Carol Groover, 10 years after her mother’s death in May 2005. The mission behind Carol’s Promise is to spread awareness, be an advocate and support those who have been affected by the disease.

Throughout the year, Carol’s Promise hosts various functions to raise awareness, support, and education. The nonprofit offers several events, including:

  • A holiday party to alleviate financial burdens on parents. At the event, the children receive three to four gifts.
  • Sickle Cell Summit – an event dedicated to raising public awareness and to educate the public and healthcare professionals.
  • Providing care packages to hospitalized patients.
  • Quarterly support groups for those affected by the disease.
  • Blood drives

Sickle Cell Disease is a rare genetic blood disorder that affects 100,000 people nationwide. It affects millions worldwide. Every person has red blood cells that contain hemoglobin that transports oxygen throughout the body and to major organs, like the heart. Hemoglobin, when in a healthy system, is circular shape, smooth, and flexible. This allows easy transportation throughout the bloodstream. With the presence of SCD, the hemoglobin is abnormal. It has a crescent shape, hard to the touch, and is very rigid. This causes blockages because the hemoglobin cannot pass through the bloodstream easily.

This results in a lack of blood flow to the major organs, resulting in complications like anemia and severe pain. Buckley says that some patients have mentioned that it is “like broken, shattered glass moving through your vein.”

“No treatment has been approved by the FDA in 20 years,” Buckley says.

In November 2018, Jordin Sparks, the 2007 American Idol winner and pop star, partnered with Novartis and created the project Generation S. The team invited all individuals who had been affected by the disease to write a story about their experience, and five “storytellers” were chosen to take part with Generation S. Buckley wrote her mother’s story and was chosen.

The mission behind Generation S is to find a universal cure for the disease. Not every patient has a perfect match for bone marrow. Some patients spend thousands of dollars on a transplant and then they reject it, or the disease complications overpower the transplant. With this project, the storytellers, Jordin Sparks, and Novartis will create a documentary and commercial to bring awareness to the disease and to create a pathway leading to a universal cure.

You can find more information on Carol’s Promise Sickle Cell Foundation by visiting carolspromise.org, Facebook: @CarolsPromise or Instagram: @carolspromise.