Patriots' Devin McCourty raises awareness about sickle cell disease

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

BOSTON - Two-time Super Bowl champion, pro-bowler and all-pro safety are just some of Devin McCourty's on field accomplishments with the New England Patriots, but his work doesn't stop on the field.

Devin, along with his twin brother Jason, who plays for the Cleveland Browns, created a campaign to fundraise and raise awareness about sickle cell disease.

The campaign, called Tackle Sickle Cell raises money for research for the blood disorder that they watched their Aunt Winnie suffer with for years.

McCourty tells Boston 25 News reporter Kerry Kavanaugh this project is one of the most important things he'll do in his career. 

"Our own aunt had it and we didn't know much about the disease. So, we knew there had to be a whole lot of other people who didn't really know how this affected people," Devin said. 

Devin and Jason McCourty with their aunt, Winnie, who suffers from sickle cell disease.

Living with the disease can be extremely painful and debilitating, including long visits to the hospital and strenuous blood transfusions.

"Sometimes I get really tired, like I don't want to do anything," said Brunel Etienne, of Brockton, who's a sickle cell patient.

Brunel, 25, has suffered with the inherited disorder since birth. He gets blood transfusions every five weeks, which means exhaustive hours and days spent inside a hospital, but one day, Etienne was surprised during his treatment.

"They told me, oh someone special is going to come see you," Brunel said. "I'm thinking in my mind who could it be...a few minutes later he walks in...Devin McCourty."

As part of his campaign, McCourty visits kids at Boston's Children's Hospital, which is where he met Brunel and they've been friends ever since. 

Devin McCourty and Brunel Etienne

"I was kind of surprised he said oh let's keep in touch...he gave me his number and everything," Brunel said. 

"It's been cool for me because we text all the time, he comes to games," McCourty said. "For me the biggest thing for them is have a day where they're just normal kids, you meet some NFL players, you go to a football game and you just do what normal kids do."

McCourty hopes that by putting his name and face on the issue people will be encouraged to learn about it and donate. 

In order to do that, McCourty has teamed up with Hyde Park Company Islide, a customized footwear company.

The sales of Devin McCourty's customized special "Tackle Sickle Cell" Slide will help fundraise research efforts. 

The Slides cost $50, and $20 goes toward the McCourty campaign through Black Friday with a goal to raise $10,000

"I think people will love this part of it," McCourty said, "That will open their eyes, their heart will see and they'll want to get involved and help."

If you want to contribute by getting a pair of those slides, just visit their website here. 

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