Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease that causes blood cells to take the shape of a sickle and restricts the flow of blood. One in 12 African Americans are born with the trait, which means they are carriers but don’t necessarily have the disease.

Unfortunately, education about the disease is not common. Often, African Americans don’t even know they have the sickle cell trait. The lack of understanding also has real-world implications: The New York Times cited 46 cases of people with the disease who were tased, pepper-sprayed and deprived suspects of oxygen by police. When those actions resulted in death, police cited natural causes due to the presence of the sickle cell trait.

On this episode of “The Word,” we are going to learn more about this rare blood disease from someone who not only has the disease but, is helping people living with chronic illness.

Lathan Singleton III is not only living with sickle cell, he has lost family members to the disease. Now, he is using his experience to help others. Singleton is the founder of the Unspoken Hero Society, a nonprofit organization that provides support, advocacy,  and tools to those affected by chronic illnesses.

And, because blood donors are vital to those living with Sickle Cell and other chronic illnesses, the nonprofit is organizing a blood drive on June 17 at Christ Second Baptist Church, 1471 Martin Luther King Blvd.

You can find out more about the blood drive, donate, or seek assistance with any chronic illness by visiting the Unspoken Hero website.