This fall, American Kidney Fund (AKF) staffers have volunteered to participate in an organization-wide fundraiser. Divided into teams, the participants work together to help to raise money on behalf of the kidney community, potentially earning prizes, leading to a touch of friendly competition. While this is not AKF's first staff fundraiser, this year does have a new addition. Each team has a unique member: a child with kidney disease.
Four children from AKF's virtual camp program – which launched this summer – are joining the fundraising efforts, providing extra motivation for staff members to raise money to help their young team members.
"Kidney disease can be extremely isolating, especially for children," said Megan Harbold, senior director of special events at AKF. It was her idea to incorporate the enthusiastic campers into AKF's staff fundraiser. "We asked pediatric kidney patients to join our team so they would meet a larger community of friends that are on their side, raising money every day for patients like them. We want them to feel like they are a part of the American Kidney Fund family."
Each team is tasked with coming up with their own fundraising strategies. Some past examples include hosting events like trivia nights, selling products they have made (like baked goods or crafts) or completing challenges like Michael Spigler, AKF vice president of patient support and education support, who streamed himself completing a Hot Ones-inspired challenge during last year's fundraiser. Ben Shlesinger, associate director of government relations, has also created a unique fundraiser in which he auctions off "A Day with Ben," the winner of which can have Ben complete any task big or small for a day. Staff can also participate in AKF's 37 Mile Challenge, which coincides with the timing of the fundraiser.
Our special kid participants are Hallie, Jovani, Lockett and Trystian. Get to know them a little bit through the bios they provided – and we hope you will consider donating to their teams.
Hi! My name is Hallie (like Allie, but with an H). I'm 11 years old and in the 6th grade. I was diagnosed with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) at two months old and it's been a journey for sure. In November of 2020, I had both of my kidneys removed and I am currently on dialysis and waiting for my transplant to happen. Whenever I am admitted to the hospital, I never lose hope and tell myself it will be ok. Also, I always ask if there is slime available – it helps me feel better. I've been through a lot in my 11 years, but having fun when I can is a MUST, especially going to theme parks, crafting and hanging out with my friends (I love FaceTime and it makes it easier when I'm in the hospital).
Jovani was born with multicystic dysplasic kidneys, a condition that results from the kidneys not forming properly while the baby is in the womb. He was told he would need a transplant when he reached 20 pounds or one year old, whichever came first. Defying the odds, Jovani made it five years old before needing a transplant. Currently, Jovani is doing well and just recently started the 5th grade. "I love the American Kidney Fund and virtual BINGO! I look forward to meeting more of the AKF staff and hope you will join me in raising money to help kids like me," said Jovani.
Hello! My name is Lockett, and I am five years old and starting kindergarten this year! I was born with not working kidneys and I started dialysis when I was six days old. When I was a year and a half, my mom gave me one of her kidneys! I have to get lots of labs done to keep my kidney healthy. I love animals and swimming and I am so excited to be an AKF fundraising teammate for this year. I love AKF and the virtual camps! I hope that you will join my team for fundraising to raise lots of money to help kids like me.
Trystian has had kidney disease since he was born. He told AKF, "I have had so many surgeries that I can't even count [them] anymore." His most recent surgery, a pyeloplasty, which involved repairing the tube connecting his kidneys to his bladder called a ureter. Fortunately, the surgery went well and he is looking forward to being an honored teammate on his AKF fundraising team!
Be sure to donate before the fundraiser ends on Nov. 11!