Julia’s Wings Foundation in Sherman has announced its Operation Wear Red Campaign will kick off March 1.

Residents will be seeing red bows, lights, shirts, decorations and more in the area March 1-7 to raise awareness of aplastic anemia, a rare bone marrow failure disease that affects just one in 250,000 people each year.

While the disease can affect anyone at any age, it is most common in children and young adults.

The campaign, now in its sixth year, is held in honor of local resident Julia Malsin and seeks to educate the general public about the disease and how they can help children and families affected by it.

Julia, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 13 had just one wish, that children battling the disease would never be alone in the hospital as they underwent lengthy treatment.

Her parents and sister, Heather, Mike and Alyssa Malsin, along with a group of community members established the Julia’s Wings Foundation in 2013 to provide financial assistance to families touched by aplastic anemia, raise funds for research and to increase awareness of the disease.

Since its inception, JWF has assisted families of children battling aplastic anemia more than $247,000, partnered with 60 hospitals across the country and partnered with the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, to dedicate a total of $120,000 to aplastic anemia research.

Held in conjunction with the National Organization for Rare Diseases’ Rare Disease Day on Feb. 29, Operation Wear Red offers many opportunities for people to get involved.

Social media profiles and online groups can be changed utilizing downloadable campaign graphics available on the Julia’s Wings website at http://www.operationwearred.org.

The mayor of New Milford and first selectman of Sherman will issue proclamations naming March 1-5 as Aplastic Anemia Awareness Week.

The Village Green in New MIlford and Mallory Town Hall in Sherman will be lit red for the week.

Julia’s Wings is also tracking national participation.

“It is in Julia’s memory that we are providing hope for these families that have nowhere else to turn due to the rarity of the disease,” said Heather Malsin. “Most people have never heard of aplastic anemia, and funding just isn't available.”

“The way that people have stepped up to support our work is nothing short of remarkable,” she said. “We are humbled and grateful. No parent should ever have to choose between caring for their child, paying their mortgage or putting food on the table.”