Dotty Nicholas Sickle Cell Scholarships Fund celebrated 10th anniversary

By Lincoln DePradine


Enoch Bempong is one of hundreds of young men and women that have benefitted from the professional and community work of Dotty “Miss Dotty’’ Nicholas, a retired Jamaican-born registered nurse and Christian preacher, who recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Theology from the Canada Christian College and School of Theological Studies.

Nicholas, who devoted much of her working life to serving sickle cell patients and their families, is a founding-member of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada (SCDAC) and a former president of the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario (SCAO).

The Dotty Nicholas Sickle Cell Scholarship Fund Association (DNSCSFA), which is named after “Miss Dotty, was established in 2013 and celebrated its 10th anniversary last Saturday with an event at Global Kingdom Ministries on Markham Road in Scarborough.

“I would like to congratulate Reverend Dotty Nicholas on attaining her Master’s degree in theology, which has just perfectly coincided with the 10th year anniversary of this scholarship foundation. Reverend, I celebrate with you and wish you all the best going forward,’’ Bempong said in a testimonial at Saturday’s event, which was


highlighted by the distribution of DNSCSFA 2023 scholarships.

Guests – including politicians and representatives from the healthcare sector, the clergy and the business community – were also treated on Saturday to a variety of entertainment and to a cocktail reception.

“It was a great event. Very, very nice,’’ Nicholas told The Caribbean Camera.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is said to be the most prevalent genetic disorder in the world, with the highest frequency in tropical regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and among people of African descent in the Diaspora. SCD leaves patients in excruciating pain during what is known as a “sickle cell crisis’’.

Recognizing the challenges faced by young adults with sickle cell, Nicholas established the DNSCSFA a decade ago to support individuals affected by SCD by providing financial assistance to those pursuing postsecondary education.

Dotty “Miss Dotty’’ Nicholas

Last Saturday, as part of its anniversary celebrations, DNSCSFA offered 11 scholarships. It was “one scholarship for each year, plus one’’, explained Nicholas, a recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award’’ from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada.

In the 10-year existence of DNSCSFA, close to 50 scholarships have been awarded.

According to Nicholas, the number of young people with sickle cell entering college or university to pursue postsecondary education “increased from 25 percent to about 75 percent. Many of these young adults have been successful to become nurses, computer technicians, dental assistants and social workers’’.

Bempong is a living example of a SCD patient successfully pursuing his dreams, with assistance from Nicholas and DNSCSFA.

“I have known Ms. Dotty Nicholas from the time I was just a little toddler. She was my nurse on many hospital admissions at Rouge Valley Hospital,’’ Bempong said in his testimonial.

“Many years ago, and on so many occasions, Ms. Dotty would speak with such excitement and conviction on how she had a dream to create a scholarship that would champion young people with sickle cell disease to attain higher education. Now, we are standing strong in that appointed time of God’s divine order.’’

A DNSCSFA scholarship assisted Bempong to pursue dental assistant studies. “After graduation I got a great job with a good income,’’ he said.

“Now, I have mastered more courage and, as of September 2023, I will be going back to school to study nursing. I have personally benefited from this program.’’

Many individuals and groups, for several decades, have been involved in advocacy work on behalf of SCD patients, raising awareness about the disease with nurses, doctors and politicians. One of the pioneering advocates was Lillie Johnson, who founded the SCAO in 1982.

Some that have joined the SCD work not only include the DNSCSFA and SCDAC, but also others like the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario and the Sickle Cell Association of British Columbia.