Countryside student raising money for Sickle cell research
by Staff Writer
Countryside Montessori School student Netanya Dennis plans to honor her father’s memory in a big way.
The seventh-grader is organizing a 5K event to raise money to fight sickle cell anemia, which affects one out of 500 African Americans. Netanya’s father, Kenneth Charles Dennis, died of complications from the disease five years ago.
“It’s a disease that people really don’t know much about,” Netanya said.
The Mustang Madness event takes place Sept. 15 at Countryside Montessori’s middle and high school campus at 4125 Johnston-Oehler Road in north Charlotte. Registration for the 5K Trail Run, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m., costs $35 ($25 if runners register in advance).
The day also includes a one-mile Family Fun Run/Walk at 10 a.m. and a corn hole tournament at 10:30 a.m. Registration costs $25 ($15 in advance) for the one-mile run/walk and $30 per two-person team ($20 in advance).
Beth Griffiths, Countryside Montessori director of development, said the school’s previous Mustang Madness events raised money for the school’s athletic teams.
“This is the first year we’ve added a charitable element to it,” she said.
The proceeds from the race will go to the Sickle Cell Foundation to fund research for a cure. The 5K race will follow three laps around the school’s cross-country trail.
“We call it a trail run, and we want to make sure people know that it’s not a run on concrete, so pushing a stroller is probably not a good idea,” Griffiths said. “The trail is really nice because it does feel a little like the country.”
Netanya and members of her Girl Scout troop, Troop No. 3745, will volunteer by helping with race check-in, replenishing water stations along the race route and monitoring the course.
Since her father’s death, Netanya has been educating her classmates about sickle cell anemia. The genetic blood disease changes the shape of normal, rounded red blood cells into shapes similar to crescent moons. The misshapen cells can get stuck inside blood vessels causing oxygen blockage.
“For my sixth-grade science class, I made a model of the circulatory system showing what a regular artery looks like compared to someone with sickle cell,” Netanya said.
Register at www.countrysidemontessorischools.org/mustang-madness.