As One Foundation Darling Dash 5k Draws Hundreds to Celebrate Life of Fallen Football Star

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Retired NFL star, Devard Darling, honored identical twin brother with 5k race to raise sickle cell awareness

NFL players support As One Foundation 5th Annual Darling Dash 5k

Above: Devard Darling, Ravens (ret); Victor Aiyewa, Chargers (FA); Randy Hymes, Ravens (ret); Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons; James Rodgers, Falcons (FA); Tramon Williams, Packers; Milton Wynn, Rams (ret)

My hope is that the money we raised, along with the lives that Devaughn touched, will educate the community, expand our influence and save lives.

Hundreds turned out for the Fifth Annual Darling Dash to raise sickle cell awareness at Constellation Field (Skeeters Stadium) in Sugar Land, Texas on Sunday, Feb. 22. The race was hosted by As One Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by retired NFL star Devard Darling in memory of the death of his identical twin brother, Devaughn. This year marked the 14th anniversary of when Devaughn Darling lost his life during football practice at Florida State University at age 18 due to dehydration paired sickle cell.

“The Darling Dash had an amazing turnout,” Darling said. “I am thankful for everyone who came to support our cause, it would have meant a lot to my brother. With every 5k, we are able to raise more awareness about sickle cell and reduce preventable deaths. We’ve made a lot of progress, but or work is not over.”

In addition to the hundreds of Houston-area citizens who participated in the race, local celebrities and dozens of current and former NFL stars, including Tramon Williams (Greenbay Packers) and Jacquizz Rodgers (Atlanta Falcons), also attended the community event. Proceeds from Darling Dash will fund As One Foundation’s scholarship fund and Operation Hydration, a program that will be implemented in local school districts and is designed to prevent sports related deaths by encouraging hydration, especially in sickle cell trait carriers.

“My hope is that the money we raised, along with the lives that Devaughn touched, will educate the community, expand our influence and save lives,” Darling said.

Sickle cell, which can be fatal when paired with dehydration and physical rigor, is carried by both Darling twins and is estimated to affect 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The mission of As One Foundation is to educate and increase awareness of sickle cell trait while encouraging youth to achieve their dreams in the face of life’s challenges. On Feb. 26, 2001, Devaughn Darling lost his life due to sickle cell disease coupled with exhaustion during spring football practice at Florida State University. His identical twin brother, Devard Darling, persevered after the tragedy. He became an NFL star, but his most noteworthy accomplishment was founding As One Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring Devaughn’s life while elevating awareness of sickle cell trait. For more information on As One Foundation visit, and @AsOneFoundation on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

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Rodney Waites
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