Aaron Paul Ardoin was born in Houston, Texas, on November 26, 1980. He was the first child of Priscilla Hill-Ardoin and James Ardoin, Jr., and grew up in Chesterfield, Missouri, with his younger brother, Evan. Aaron was an exceptional young man who enjoyed the discoveries of childhood. At age nine, he was diagnosed with sickle beta-thalassemia plus, a rare form of sickle cell disease.
While one in 12 African American’s carry the sickle cell trait, Aaron’s diagnosis came as a shock. Generally, both parents must possess the sickle cell trait for a child to be born with this genetic disease. In Aaron’s case, only his father possessed the trait. While being treated for infertility, it was discovered that Mrs. Ardoin had thalassemia, a blood disorder uncommon to African Americans. Planning to start their family, they were never advised that this could be a problem. Significantly, no medical system has been developed that acknowledges that when a man or woman has sickle cell trait and the significant other does not, that they can still have a child with sickle cell disease. As a result, Aaron’s parents were never given the opportunity to know that they could have a child with sickle cell disease.
Typical of those who suffer with sickle cell disease, Aaron endured many pain crises and hospital stays, but did not allow the incurable disease to stop him from passionately pursuing his interests. Aaron was a scholar-athlete. As a young boy, he enjoyed tennis, basketball and soccer, and was an avid reader. He was a two-sport standout at Parkway Central High School, where he played basketball and football. Aaron graduated with honors in 1999.
A debonair young man, Aaron loved hip-hop music and the incessant pursuit of knowledge, in and out of school. He attended Florida A&M University, where he studied in the School of Business and Industry. Always with an eye toward the future, Aaron endured his education by completing several internships, including one with World Wide Technologies, a leading high-tech company based in St. Louis, Missouri. Aaron graduated from Florida A&M with honors, and earned an MBA just weeks prior to his death in 2004.
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