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Ruben Studdard: ‘A Fighter’ For Sickle Cell Disease, Records Song

Hip-Hop Media Training

Ruben Studdard's affirmation that he was the right spokespersonchoice for the BeSickle Smart program came quickly and matter-of-factly. When attending hisfirst promotional event for the campaign this past June, he met a child whodrew an image that he can't get out of his head.

At each stop, Ruben has a private room to meet with attendants diagnosed with the disorder than affects 70,000 people. They are asked to drawpictures that describe how the disease makes them feel. The first person Rubenmet was a young boy who drew a photo of himself in a jail cell.

"That touched me a lot," Ruben explained via phone from his Birmingham recordingstudio. "He couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, and for him to feel like--forthe rest of his life--he is in prison because he has Sickle Cell Disease reallyaffected me, and I never forgot that. He's pretty much inspired me."

Hear Ruben's Sickle Cell benefit song "I Am A Fighter"

The season 2 American Idol winner is on a Be Sickle Smartpromotional tour though November. The national health-educational road showpromotes awareness of iron overload due to blood transfusions among peopleliving with Sickle Cell Disease. The program encourages individuals battlingthe condition to take control of their health.

To help the cause, Ruben co-wrote the song, "I Am AFighter," about living with the disease. Ruben wrote the song from the point ofview of a survivor as opposed to an outsider looking in.

I am a figher, I won't give up
I won't give in
Because I know I will win
And I am a fighter, I will press on
I won't give in
Because I know I will win
I will win

"I did not want to write the song from my personalperspective basically telling them how to feel," Ruben says. "I wanted to writea song from the perspective of people and their experiences. I wanted to write,a 'I'm alive, I know I'll survive, even though I'm living with this, I don'twant you to feel sorry for me' type of song."

Ruben first became aware of Sickle Cell Disease as a child.His church supported local walkathons for Sickle Cell Disease, and his motheralways participated. As he got older, he learned that Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins,lead singer of '90s R&B/pop group TLC, was stricken with the disease. Buthe admits that he did not learn about the full impact of the disorder until hebecame involved with Be Sickle Smart.

"Being involved with Be Sickle Smart has given me anopportunity to meet people affected by the disease," Ruben says. "I never knewhow painful it was for those people. I want to inspire someone to keep going on."

Ruben Studdard Be Sickle Smart Promotional Tour dates:

9/12 - Cleveland, OH
9/19 - Memphis, TN
10/1 - Orland, FL (National SCDAA Gala)
10/10 - Jackson, MS
10/22 - Baton Rouge, LA
10/24 - Raleigh/Durham, NC
Nov. TBD - Austin, TX

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