MATTESON, Ill. (WLS) -- A special birthday party was held for children living with sickle cell disease.
"Really what people don't know is that you don't know if someone has sickle cell or sickle cell trait just by looking at them," said Danielle Shorter, whose 8-year-old daughter Olivia was born with the disease.
Olivia wanted to have a birthday party with a purpose: Raising awareness about sickle cell disease and helping others living with it just like her.
"It started because Olivia just wanted to see if there are other kids like her in the neighborhood. She wanted to throw a party for kids just like her, and that was her birthday wish last year," Danielle said. "So this year, once you do it once, you might as well do it again!"
The party had all the regular trappings, including face painting, a bouncy house and games, plus blood donation stations. Sickle cell patients manage their disease through blood transfusions, so donations are key.
"I said I wanted a sickle cell awareness party for people who have blood they want to donate so we can all be healthy," Olivia said.
Olivia was pleasantly surprised to have such a great turnout. Mom Danielle said the party and the community's support meant a lot to the family.
"We don't know how many good days they will have in the month or in the week so this, for sure this annual party, means that it's for them," she said.
Olivia wanted other children who attended the party to help spread a message of awareness.
"Let them know that I'm here and there's other people that have sickle cell so you're not the only one. We're together," she said.
You can help save lives by donating blood at the 5th annual Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 16.
Call 1-800-RED CROSS or click here for more information.