THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – There are plenty of worthy causes spotlighted by players across the NFL for My Cause My Cleats.
Some are more well known. Others, not as much. The latter is why Rams safety Quentin Lake has chosen Sickle Cell Disease Foundation for his cause this year, as well as for personal reasons.
"It's a cause that's not really well known," Lake told theRams.com. "I mean, there's some players in the NFL that have it, not necessarily the disease, obviously, but the trait. It's not something that really affects them in terms of their playing ability. But it's just to promote awareness around it, just because, one, it's not too common, but also, it's not really promoted. So just wanted to kind of promote awareness around that situation."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) affects approximately 100,000 Americans.
However, it is even more prevalent in the Black community. SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black births, with about one in 13 Black babies born with sickle cell trait (SCT).
"Just moreso the community that it affects," Lake said, when asked what he wants people to take away from the attention he's drawing toward this cause. "Because it affects it a lot more African-American people than the majority of others. Obviously I don't know the statistics, but that's one thing I do know, that it affects the Black population a little bit more. So just spreading awareness around that, but in terms of that, I just want to spread awareness around a small kind of disease that not a lot of people know about, which would be beneficial. And then obviously it's a small organization that could use the spotlight."
The most prominent attention surrounding SCT came in October 2007, when then-Steelers safety Ryan Clark was playing in Denver. Clark – who carries the trait – was experiencing pain in his left side which was discovered to be directly related to his trait and had been triggered by the high altitude. He underwent surgery removing his spleen and gall bladder and was deactivated for all future games played in Denver.
Clark later former Ryan Clark's Cure League in 2012 to raise awareness about the trait and money for research to find a cure.
"Ryan Clark is a good example, him playing at altitude over in Denver, and then having almost like a life-threatening situation," Lake said. "So just kind of being able to promote awareness for players that might not even know they have it – some people don't even know they have it. So just making sure that people are aware of this situation, and just really promoting awareness. That's the biggest thing – awareness, awareness, awareness around it."