Jordin Sparks buried her 16 year old step sister Bryanna Jackson-Frias earlier this week, after her battle with sickle cell anemia. Now the family is focused on finding a cure for the disease.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Jordin Sparks shared that her sister fought the disease her entire life.
“She fought her entire life — all 16 years, in and out of hospitals. And she was so strong,” Sparks, told . “She just dealt with it, you know, and there was never a complaint. I’m sure she had moments where she was like, ‘Okay, this hurts,’ but she was one of the strongest people that I’ve ever encountered.”
They’ve set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for sickle cell research in honor of Bryanna, who was laid to rest Monday.
“Her dream was to raise awareness and to find a cure for it,” says Sparks. “People know about sickle cell, but they don’t know how rampant it is or how many people are affected by it. It kills 100,000 people a year, so … Why aren’t we talking about this more?”
Adds Sparks: “We’re just trying to raise as much as we can to help find a cure so nobody else has to go through this.”