Who We Are

The Have A Heart for Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization established in 1990 by the late Linda Collins. Linda’s vision was to establish an organization that would be an advocate for those individuals affected by sickle cell disease, as well as, provide a means for people to become as knowledgeable about sickle cell disease as they are about cancer, diabetes, and other seriously debilitating diseases. Consequently, the Foundation is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of the disease through seminars, reference material, and educational activities. Our goal is to provide continuous education about the disease, its management, and its myriad of issues. Our strategy is to educate our youth so they can become more responsible in managing the disease as they grow older.

Our Founder

Linda Collins, founder of the Have a Heart for Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, was diagnosed at age five with Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA). She made a commitment early in life not to sit in silence, but participate in advancing the care of SCA patients and their families. She began her formal quest to make a difference in 1982 when she spent a year assisting in a research project to develop a treatment for SCA at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her experiences and the knowledge gained at UIC reinforced her vision that she could make a difference. After enrolling at Chicago State University (CSU) in 1983 she founded the CSU Sickle Cell Anemia Support Organization to overcome the myths and fears about SCA among CSU faculty, staff and students as well as the general community. During the next 5 years Linda successfully lobbied at the local, state and national levels to help keep sickle cell disease visible. The more she accomplished the more she realized that additional funding was critically needed. In 1988 she organized her first SCA fundraiser and in 1990 she established the 501c3 organization S-CARE (Sickle Cell Anemia Research and Education Fund), which was reorganized to become the Have a Heart for Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation in 1999. Since the foundation is a voluntary organization, the vast majority of funds raised are used for programs.

In addition to raising funds to directly support its sickle cell research and education programs, the Foundation was instrumental in obtaining a $1.9 million grant in 2001 from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to support a Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Unfortunately, shortly after funding for the program began, Linda passed away from leukemia and could not enjoy the fruits of her labor.

One of Linda’s dreams was to have a mentored youth development program, and with the support of the University of Illinois at Chicago Sickle Cell Center, her dream came to life, and has been a tremendous success. This program is a model for other sickle cell organizations that want to help young patients and their families cope with this disease.

Although some of the original board members and volunteers recruited by Linda have moved on, some have remained. Those remaining along with newer board members and volunteers have been successful at keeping Have a  Heart not only alive and viable, but growing. The passion that created Have a Heart remains and will be the basis of our future successes.