NEW BERN, Craven County — Update: The 5K Race for Sickle Cell has been postponed from Mar. 12 to Mar. 19.
People can lace up their tennis shoes and raise money to fight Sickle Cell Disease, a painful blood disorder, this weekend.
The Neuse-Pamlico Sound Women's Coalition is hosting its sixth-annual walk-run this Saturday in New Bern.
The race was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and was virtual in 2021.
Runners of all ages can come together again this year and help find a cure.
It's a 5K race with a purpose that brings runners to Union Point Park in honor of Jamal Jones.
Jones, a Pamlico County native, was diagnosed with the disease at 9-months old and passed away in January of 2021 at 37.
The group's president, Mit McLean, said Jones is deeply missed.
"We started this race because of him and that loss has really affected all of us," she said.
Jones fought through a number of painful crises and hospitalizations over the years but he lived independently, earning a bachelor's degree in information technology and an associate's in culinary arts.
"We have even more of a purpose now because of Jamal," said his mother Vickie Moseley-Jones.
"People realize this as a disease, as a chronic disease/illness, and now the goal is to see it eradicated, which is what I'm trying to live the last years of my life making people aware of."
With this inherited blood disorder, red blood cells become sickle-shaped instead of round and damaged hemoglobin can't carry oxygen to tissues.
People with the disease are living longer lives with research and fundraisers like this one making it possible.
"We help individuals who have transportation needs, who have doctor appointments that they can't get to, or gas cards, gift cards. We've bought heating units for individuals because temperature control is critical for people with sickle cell," Moseley-Jones said.
Through this race and a new scholarship named in Jones' honor, his legacy lives on.
"It's the awareness piece, and I think now more than ever, especially in Eastern North Carolina and surrounding areas, sickle cell awareness is more prevalent," Moseley-Jones said.
The race starts at Union Point Park in New Bern at 9 a.m. Saturday and goes to Tryon Palace and back to Union Point Park.
You can walk or run and it's open to children and adults.
You can register for the race and/or donate here.