PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – While, $500 may not seem like much money, it means the world to Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark.
“In high school, I didn’t have any money to donate to anything so I know it was definitely a sacrifice,” Clark said.
This morning, Clark was given a $500 check from the students and staff at Brashear High School to support research for sickle cell disease.
The Steelers’ safety spent part of his day off to educate kids in the Pittsburgh Public Schools about the blood disorder that caused him to lose his spleen and gall bladder after playing in Denver several years ago.
Clark found out that he had the sickle cell trait when he was a 17-year-old freshman at Louisiana State University.
“I didn’t have anyone to tell me — even though I suffer from the trait, what could be the consequences of having it? For me, I am out here trying to spread the word and get some awareness about it,” Clark said.
Hundreds of students attended an assembly at Brashear High School Tuesday morning.
However, for those who attend other high schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, a recorded message will be played for them.
Megan Perfetti, a health teacher at Brashear High School, is the curriculum coordinator for the school system.
“In the Pittsburgh Public Schools today, hopefully we have educated over 20,000 students. Hopefully, they will go home and tell their parents or tell someone else and by the end of the day, maybe there will be 100,000 people who know,” Perfetti said.
Before Clark’s talk, students admitted they knew very little about it.
“It’s really nothing I know about, but my cousin is dealing with it. My cousin is dealing with it, so it wasn’t really nothing that I was aware about — that I didn’t really know the meaning,” Ty Butler. a senior, said.
Clark hopes that talking about sickle cell now gets through to the kids so they can change things in the future.