Weekend Fab: Sickle Cell Gala supports ongoing research

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of Birmingham’s premiere social events: “Showtime Birmingham Style,” in support of the Sickle Cell Foundation. The Foundation “was established in 1978 for the purpose of advocating and improving the quality of health, life and services for individuals affected by sickle cell disease and related conditions in central Alabama, while promoting the search for a cure for all people in the world with sickle cell disease.” Executive Director Sharon B. Lewis, this year’s chairwoman Brenda M. Brantley and celebrity host Nicole Ari Parker made this year’s gala a truly magical event.

After a red carpet pre-gala reception, guests enjoyed remarks from Dr. Tim Townes, UAB Chair of the Department of Biochemistry/Molecular Genetics, whose research may lead to a cure for the disease. Next, Fox 6’s Jeh Jeh Pruitt and Mickey Ferguson took the stage as masters of ceremony and ongoing comic relief. After greetings from Mayor William Bell, Congresswoman Terri Sewell and acknowledgments from President of the Board of Directors Michael H. Bell, Ms. Lewis, and Ms. Brantley, guests enjoyed a dinner of barbecue shrimp and grits, Southern fried chicken and sauteed spinach.

This year’s celebrity showcase did not disappoint and featured some hidden Birmingham-area talent: highlights included Birmingham Fire Chief Ivor Brooks, Ernest Miller and Lamont Saffo’s rendition of “Let’s Just Kiss and Say Goodbye” by The Manhattans, City Councilman Jonathan F. Austin’s take on Barry White’s “Practice What You Preach,” accompanied by Courtney G. French of Fuston, Petway and French, and Charlie Waldrep, Randy Jones, Jim Folsom and Tommy Spina’s lively medley of “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” and “The Duke of Earl.”

The night’s popular amateur talent feature wowed the audience with R&B, rap and soul. It included Abijah Cunningham’s first place version of Patti Labelle’s “If Only You Knew,” Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” performed by second place winner El Paso Williams, and “OG” Gregory Johnson’s third place take on “Cruisin’ ” by Smokey Robinson.

This was also a night for fabulous black-tie fashion, and you know I love to get fab for a great cause! So what did I wear? An apricot and cream vintage sequined and belted silk sheath from Dallas’ Rummage Vintage, with a gold snakeskin miniaudiere, and barely-there PVC Manolo Blahniks. I wore my hair in a simple topknot, and for a little pizazz I also tried “junk nails,” which added sparkling embellishments to my manicure.

Surprise guest of the night? Buffalo Bills’ defensive tackle (and former Alabama gamechanger) Marcell Dareus, who made an impromptu pledge of support to the Sickle Cell Foundation, and was sweet enough to pose with me! Isn’t he dapper?

BB&T of Alabama was this year’s title sponsor, and the 2014 “It’s Showtime! Birmingham Style”chairman will be Charlie Waldrep, of Waldrep, Stewart and Kendrick.


It’s Showtime!

Tasha Smith

One of Birmingham’s most elegant and entertaining evenings is almost upon us as  The Sickle Cell Foundation  hosts It’s Showtime at the Apollo – Birmingham Style 2012 on Saturday, January 28th!  Similar to the famed talent show conducted at Harlem’s  legendary Apollo Theater, the event features a local talent showcase and actress Tasha Smith  (For Better or For Worse) will serve as host.  Sharon B. Lewis (Executive Director) speaks passionately about the Foundation’s mission and the necessity of a cure for sickle cell  and gave me a sneak peek into what guests can expect.

“Sickle cell disease affects the red blood cells and it causes extreme pain and can cause major organ damage,” Lewis explains.  “[The Sickle Cell Foundation has] been the advocate for improved medical care and access to social services for affected families. ”  Celebrities like Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (of TLC fame) have put a face on the disease, which can lead to severe health complications. 

Lewis – who is very optimistic that a cure will be discovered soon – emphasizes the upcoming gala’s impact.

“Funds from this event have gone towards making sure adults have access to comprehensive medical care.   If we are who are working are experiencing tough times, imagine how much tougher it is for families facing tough times [compounded with] sickle cell anemia.  [We] help families obtain prescriptions, as well as dental care and vision care.  We’re able to fill in the gap, even [providing] things like transportation to the doctor.  And there are many complications.  It’s not unusual for a person to have numerous hospitalizations throughout the year, and it’s an ongoing cycle for them.  It’s really a vicious cycle.  In addition to financial needs, I hope that the foundation also offers emotional support to help them weather the storms they find themselves confronted with. We really thank the community for all of their support in the past and hope that they will continue to support us. ”

Lewis promises guests will enjoy “a fabulous evening with incredible food and this year [there will be] an extra special twist for patrons. ”  The black tie event will be held at the Sheraton Hotel, and a limited number of tickets and tables are available for purchase by calling the Foundation’s office at (205) 780-2355 or 1-800-735-0405 (tickets are not available online). 

Image via TSAW.com

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