Pfizer drafts 49ers running back Tevin Coleman for sickle cell awareness push

During the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign this season, Coleman also wore custom-designed shoes in support of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

Coleman has played for the San Francisco 49ers.

The football season is nearing the home stretch and Pfizer has made a play of its own by drafting San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman to lead its sickle cell awareness effort. 

In the 40-second spot released earlier this month, Coleman and his wife Akilah discuss raising a child with sickle cell disease and outline the resources available to other families and caregivers confronted with the condition.

Tevin was diagnosed with sickle cell trait in college after experiencing some symptoms, while Akilah has the trait but is asymptomatic. Their daughter was born with the disease, which prompted the Colemans to be proactive about her care. 

“We try to create a playbook for our daughter,” Tevin said. “The biggest key for her is staying positive. My role as a father is to be there for her and make sure that she’s OK.”

Sickle cell disease is one of the most common inherited blood disorders, affecting approximately 100,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Notably, the disease is particularly common among Black and Hispanic Americans. 

Symptoms of the condition include anemia, pain crisis, blood clots, acute chest syndrome and splenic sequestration or “pooling,” according Johns Hopkins Medicine. Other risks include strokes, jaundice or priapism.  

This isn’t the first time Coleman, an eight-year NFL veteran, has used his platform as a professional athlete to raise awareness of sickle cell disease. 

In September, Coleman participated in the Sickle Cell Speaks initiative for Global Blood Therapeutics during Sickle Cell Awareness Month. The company was purchased by Pfizer for $5.4 billion in early October.

Additionally, during the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign this season, Coleman wore custom-designed shoes in support of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA). The NFL is slated to auction Coleman’s cleats on the league’s website, with all proceeds going to SCDAA.

“The visibility and support mean so much to us and the thousands of families living with sickle cell disease across the country,” SCDAA CEO Regina Hartfield said in a statement.  

In addition to Pfizer, Forma Therapeutics recently teamed with SCDAA to launch the Believe it! campaign to improve the understanding of the disease. 

This story first appeared on 

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