September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. The annual observance originated in 1975 when the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease (NASCD) and its member organizations began conducting month-long events to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and the need to address the problem at the national and local level.
The NASCD (now called the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc.- SCDAA) and its member organizations sponsored public educational programs and fundraising activities during the month. State and local government officials issued Sickle Cell Month proclamations and were introduced to local poster children.
The SCDAA tradition of selecting a national poster child (now called the Child Ambassador Contest) from local candidates began in 1976 with President Gerald Ford greeting the first winner (8-year-old Bridgete Earby of Oakland, California) at the White House. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama have also greeted the national poster child.
The effort to have Sickle Cell Month officially recognized at all levels of government succeeded in 1983 when the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the resolution, introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus, asking President Reagan to issue a proclamation designating the month of September as “National Sickle-Cell Anemia Awareness Month.” President Reagan signed Proclamation 5102 in September 1983 inviting “all Americans to join…in reaffirming our commitment to reduce the burden of illness, disability, and premature death imposed by this disease.”