KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was an emotional Tuesday for a Kansas City area man. He’s meeting for the first time some people who saved his life.

At the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, Kevin Wake is happy. But more importantly healthy.

He was told in high school that he most likely wouldn’t live past his 25th birthday. He just turned 55 years old.

Wake says he wouldn’t be here without the generosity of hundreds of people across the region and he got the chance to meet 50 of those people Tuesday.

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and in honor of this month, the Community Blood Center introduced Wake to some of the blood donors who have helped sustain his life.

Sickle cell is an inherited blood disorder, most common among African Americans and patients like Wake rely on blood transfusion every few weeks to stay healthy.

There’s currently a nationwide blood shortage.

The Community Blood Center hopes by sharing Wake’s story, it will encourage more people to get out and donate blood.

“We’re really hoping people will see this come full circle, that the one hour you take to donate blood, it actually goes to real live patients like Kevin and it’s making a difference for patients all over the metro,” Chelsey Smith, with Community Blood Center said.

“I’m really hopeful that today’s event will not only be joyful for me to get to meet my donors, but to get the awareness out there that we really need blood donations at all times,” Wake said.

Wake is an advocate for sickle cell disease patients and has lobbied for additional research surrounding the disease. His testimony led to the passing of Missouri SB-710, which created Missouri’s Sickle Cell Awareness Week and helped allocate more resources for research.

Also, a symptom of sickle cell disease is stroke. Wake says he has survived three strokes in his adult life.