Sickle Cell Patient Honored for Grassroots Solution to Food Insecurity

For as long as he’s lived, the value of teamwork has been clear to Jamarion. Now 14 years old, Jamarion was born with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that can cause excruciating pain crises and potentially life-threatening complications. As a baby, he began receiving life-sustaining infusions from a team of compassionate specialists at Lurie Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.  

Despite his own health challenges, Jamarion focused his attention on his community and recognized a critical problem. On regular drives home from the hospital, he and his mother Kamilah would frequently drive past a homeless shelter. The sight of community members gathering outside to wait for meals moved Jamarion, who was then just eight years old. He asked Kamilah if they could invite people to their house to feed them.  

With the help of his parents, Jamarion began making paper bag meals and encouraging friends and family to support the cause on social media — an effort he has now maintained for more than five years. His initiative captured the attention of the Lurie Children’s Hope & Courage Award committee members, who honor one child or teen with the prestigious award every two years. The awardee must demonstrate an exceptional commitment to improving the health and well-being of children and youth. 

On October 24, Jamarion accepted the Lurie Children’s Hope & Courage Youth Advocate Award at a special ceremony at Malcom X College. Majority Leader Robyn Gabel, 18th District, was honored with the Government Leader Hope & Courage Award, and creative entrepreneur Jordan Campbell was honored with the Community Advocate Hope & Courage Award. Learn more about the honorees here.  

“Our Hope & Courage awardees are an inspiration to all of us, and we are so grateful for the resolve and leadership they have demonstrated,” said Thomas Shanley, MD, President & CEO. “We are honored to recognize exceptional youth, government leaders and community advocates who are lighting the way toward a healthier future for every child.” 

“I’m very grateful for my family and the nurses, doctors and staff at Lurie Children’s who have supported me throughout my sickle cell journey,” Jamarion said at the awards ceremony. “I will continue to shine light and love throughout my community.” 

One in five households in Chicago experiences food insecurity, and Lurie Children’s is committed to improving access to nutritious food for all families. For decades, our experts have partnered closely with community-based organizations and leaders, linking clinical work with grassroots expertise to develop evidence-based initiatives that help communities thrive. Learn more.  

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