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In Loving Memory
of Marqus Alan Valentine

July 25, 1983 - June 22, 2020

Marqus Valentine, the fiercest sickle cell warrior.

Our co-founder and the inspiration for Sick Cells, gained his warrior wings on June 22, 2020. After 36 years of enjoying Marqus’s kind heart, hilarious jokes and selfless personality, words cannot express how incredibly sad this loss is for his family, friends and larger sickle cell disease (SCD) community.

While mourning the loss of Marqus brings deep sadness, our memories of his life and the words he left behind are reminders of how special he truly was and how blessed we are that his presence was shared with us. Marqus touched the hearts of all of those who knew his radiant spirit. As co-founder of Sick Cells, he was dedicated to pushing forward our mission to elevate the voices of the sickle cell community. He was determined to improve the lives of future warriors and their families.

His involvement in the SCD community stretched beyond Sick Cells. Marqus was an advocate for blood donation, a recipient of the 2019 American Red Cross Blood Service Heroes award, a mentor for younger warriors and a go-to source for advice. He was wise beyond his years and never hesitated to share his voice to help those around him.

Marqus’s legacy is everlasting. He touched the lives of so many people who knew him both in real life and virtually. His triumphs, resilience, perseverance, positivity and wholehearted devotion to uplifting others in every way he could will live on forever.

Tributes

Marqus was born July 25, 1983 to Angelo and Francesca. He is survived by his siblings Kevin, Ashley and his nephew Kaleb. Marqus’ family has an extended reach on earth and in heaven. Marqus was a patient person who devoted his life to understanding others, uplifting his family and friends, and spreading awareness about sickle cell disease.

Marqus touched the hearts of all of those who knew his radiant spirit. Many will share that even just one encounter with Marqus had a lasting effect on their life. He was wise beyond his years and never hesitated to share his voice to help those around him.

As the co-founder and inspiration for Sick Cells, Marqus believed that his life and the pain he lived with everyday was for a purpose. He shared his story with anyone who would listen, ranging from his individual friends and family, to his medical team, in Washington, DC, and even abroad. Marqus shared every new experience, such as training his own service dog and therapeutic riding, so others could participate. He believed all persons with SCD should have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities. His purpose was to improve the lives of current and future sickle cell warriors and their families.

Marqus’ legacy will forever be a reminder of his triumphs, resilience, positive spirit and complete dedication to uplifting others in every way he could.

"He was the first one that inspired me to wear my oxygen because I was so relentless in doing so, but now I will wear just in honor of him, you were a strong Warrior you still are you will be missed."
— Cynthia
"I’m so grateful for all you all have done and are doing in support of our warriors. Marqus being such an amazing warrior has inspired so many and his hard work has helped even more. I’m praying for comfort for his family and all who love him ♥️"
— Brenda
"I feel privileged to have crossed paths with Marqus. We first met in 2019 at Rare Disease Week in D.C. Seeing his passion for life and advocacy touched me in a way I will never forget. Other than just thoroughly enjoying conversation with him, seeing him advocate for himself and others inspired me and sparked hope in me that my daughter living with a rare disease will also be able to do that someday. Seeing how your entire family took on sickle cell advocacy and policy while never ‘stepping in front of him’ was a beautiful thing to witness. His light shined so bright, and there is no doubt in my mind that his spirit will live on through the many people he touched."
— Brie
"Marqus saved many lives through his advocacy and in raising awareness for blood donation and sickle cell disease research."
— Jessica
"I am simply so proud of the accomplishments of Marqus. He will always be my hero! He had a heart of compassion and energy of fun. He reminds me so much of what rubbed off on you Ashley. Always smiling, full of humor, creative, and simply a go-getter with great inspiration. These beautiful memories are a testimony of his contribution, passion and resilience to impact lives. I have been sad about his departure to heaven, but I am celebrating his new life today because we shall meet again."
— Carla
"Marqus was a fierce warrior and a true hero. We were honored for Marqus to be a 2019 Blood hero as he embodied every aspect of the honor. Rest In Peace, Marqus."
— American Red Cross of Illinois
"He was loved by literally everyone in our school; there really was no way not to love such a genuinely friendly guy. And as he grew, what a freaking WARRIOR he became for his cause!! I always loved our talks, and I just loved him so much as a person. My Friend: you ran your race like a champion, and you fought your battles like a king. You’ve earned your crown, Dear Brother: can’t wait to give your sickle-free self a HUGE hug when I get there."
— Christopher
“I know Marqus fought hard, not just for his own health but to bring better treatments to SCD community as a whole. Your family is amazing and I know Marqus will continue to live on in spirit as you fight for a cure.”
— Kimberly
“I had the chance of meeting Marqus this past February at rare disease week, he’s such an amazing and compassionate advocate. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve done for the sickle cell community.”
— Kadeem
“I am saddened to hear about Marqus, he gave hope to my daughter who has a son that is autisic and has SS.”
— Valena
“Marcus was a very special person and during his time on earth he truly made a difference to many, many people.”
— Jackie
“He truly was an angel on earth and the difference you both have made with your courage, passion, and love will live on forever. What he accomplished in his lifetime and the difference he made is just incredible. You, your family and Marqus are in my thoughts and prayers every minute and I am so grateful I got to meet him and see you both together.”
— Ashly
“His work and impact on the sickle cell community will never be forgotten.”
— Conquering the Curve, Inc.
“It’s already been expressed that Marqus was the fiercest warrior and advocate. I agree! Our last convo was all about him teaching me how to tackle ICER. He had a whole game plan for how we should engage with the team and it was brilliant. I can’t imagine this advocacy space without you. This is a tremendous loss. I pray we will be able to recover. You are so missed already Marqus. I will continue to fight and effect change with you in mind and on my heart. You would expect nothing less. Thank you for inspiring and motivating. You brought out the best in all of us.”
— Teonna
“Marqus is among a handful of people who expanded my perception of the breadth of experience that I should be fighting for Nic. Once he gave me the rundown of what his doctor did to ensure he could travel, and it really opened my eyes. We are now planning a slightly crazy family road trip to a place that Nic really wants to go (Yellowstone), and I wonder if I would have felt so emboldened to push Nic's medical team for a plan if it hadn't been for Marqus' example. He inspired me to see that sickle cell is not just about managing illness, it's also about working to create expanded opportunities for experiences. Nic's team had never had a patient ask to make a trip like that, and it has taken a lot of back and forth, but they have come to understand our desire to give Nic this "typical" family experience (our Hemonc had taken her family there a few years ago, which helped). My work is far from over (we need an oxygen concentrator to make the trip safe and insurance doesn't think vacations are medically necessary), but I am going to find a way to make it happen, because I have seen people with sickle cell live into their dreams, and it is worth it. Marqus was a man whose enthusiasm for blazing a trail and a better life for people with sickle cell was contagious. I see that in you as well. I know that mourning a friend is a hard road, and that you have had to grieve for too many people lately. I pray for comfort, peace, and renewed strength to keep fighting the good fight.”
— Amy
“We at As One are praying alongside this grieving family. Marqus Valentine was a dynamite #SickleCellWarrior who made great strides for our community through advocacy and personal testimony. Rest In Peace Marqus.”
— The As One Foundation
“Know that you and Marqus are loved and appreciated more than you could ever imagine. Sending up prayers for you, your parents and the entire Sickle Cell Community as Marqus is another major loss for our Sickle Cell family. May your love continue to motivate you to fight the battle for increased access to medicine, greater awareness of the disease and social justice in the Sickle World. Thanking God for Marqus and fulfillment of his journey purpose here on earth. Celebrating his escape from pain and suffering.”
— Pat
“He was one of the few Isaiah followed. He’s the reason why Isaiah stopped worrying so much about “what if” and just started saying “I’m gonna do the things I want to and that my body will allow” and decided to fly for a trip. I’m praying that God wraps his arms around his entire family. Rest sweetly Marqus, you definitely earned your wings.”
— Tira
“His companion touched so many lives. I will forever be proud of his accomplishments. He is a true inspiration to many. His sister Ashley and his parents are also a gem! The advocacy of support they have committed to the community speaks volumes. Our prayers are with them.”
— Carla
“The Valentine family has always been one of my favorites and near and dear to my heart. Marqus was the epitome of a true warrior, through and through.”
— Colleen
“I was so taken with Marqus and his sister. It just goes to show that amazing progress can happen if a person just decides to go for it. Here they are, Sickle Cell heroes!”
— Peter
“I'll always remember our meeting at SCDAA and discussing shared health challenges that Marqus and I experienced. To have the honor to know both of you means a lot to me. The joy of your shared work, might mission lives on and on and on.”
— Sehila
“He was such a great guy and definitely made it a mission to fight and get the word out for us SCD warriors.”
— Joi
“Marqus was the epitome of a fighter but was so positive through it all. I loved catching up with him each month for the newsletter’s Minute With Marqus section. He always saw the bright side of the tough moments. I’ll miss his laugh and stories - he was such a good storyteller. I remember one Christmas we were all laughing together over some crazy memories he was sharing. I’ll cherish our conversations forever.”
— Amanda