By Teresa Varley
Smiles were plentiful at Santonio Holmes' 1st Annual Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon to benefit his III & Long Foundation, which he established to support local charities working with the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and assisting families who have been impacted by the disease.
The bowl-a-thon, which was held at the FunFest Entertainment Center in Pittsburgh, drew some of Holmes' teammates, including Casey Hampton, Charlie Batch, Deshea Townsend and Tony Hills.
"It's always great when these guys can get involved," said Holmes. "It's great for them to be there and support it."
Holmes seven-year old son, Santonio, III, suffers from the effects of sickle cell anemia and he is one of the lucky ones who has the resources to help him.
What Holmes can't fathom is what it's like for a parent who isn't able to help their child, who doesn't have the ability to take kids to the doctor, doesn't have the health insurance to pay for medical expenses. In many cases, kids are suffering from sickle cell and don't even know it because they have never been screened because finances or family situations don't allow for it.
"It's always a good thing when you get other people involved and you are helping the needy families," said Holmes. "It's good to help a cause and raise the awareness for sickle cell."
Those who made contributions were able to bowl with Holmes and some of his teammates, something everyone enjoyed.
"It was a lot of fun," said Holmes. "I got an opportunity to bowl with some of the kids and their families and mingle with the people. I really enjoyed myself."
While it was fun, there also was a serious side. Earlier in the day Holmes attended a sickle cell screening at Schenley Park, done in conjunction with his foundation as a part of Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Holmes himself found out this past May that he actually has the sickle cell trait, something that was passed on to him from his father.
"After 25 years of having the symptoms, pains in my arm, pains in my back, stomach pains, I found out I have the trait," said Holmes. "I didn't know why I was having the pains until I found out I have the trait.
"It definitely got passed down. My dad and I both have the trait and now my son, it skipped two generations and he has the full disease. It's hard to know I always have to worry about him being sick at all times."