David M. White, 2016 Hero of Hope
David White began dialysis like many people do—with a “crash landing.” Feeling sick, he went to the hospital where he learned his kidneys weren’t working. He began emergency dialysis immediately.
He describes himself as a less-than-ideal patient who cut treatments short or skipped them altogether. When his care team told him to plan for a short life, David got serious about his treatment and his health. He was unable to work, so he turned to the American Kidney Fund to help pay his Medigap insurance premiums. Relieved of the financial burden of treatment, he focused on getting into the best health possible.
In 2015, David received a successful kidney transplant from a deceased donor. He does not take his good fortune lightly. He works actively to help others by mentoring and spreading awareness of kidney disease, and he is a member of AKF’s Advocacy Network.
David is also very involved with a Mid Atlantic Renal Coalition patient engagement initiative, helping identify patient needs. He chairs a patient advocacy committee, is a medical review board member, and is an active subject matter expert on several project workgroups, and an advocate and a spokesperson for renal patients everywhere.
“Dave is an amazing person and a testament to others that the path you are on can be changed, no matter how far down it you have gone,”wrote a volunteer who works with David in her nomination of him for the 2016 Hero of Hope award.
Marcus A. Garcia, 2016 KIDNEYNATION Excellence Award
When Marcus’ older brother Matt was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome, a life-threatening autoimmune disorder, his family rallied around him to provide the emotional support he needed to battle the disease. The rare disorder led to kidney failure, and Matt underwent dialysis for five years as he waited for a kidney transplant.
Last year, Marcus and Matt decided they wanted to help others fighting kidney disease. The brothers had played competitive lacrosse in college, so they turned to the sport they loved to promote teamwork and philanthropy among young players while raising money to help kidney patients. They joined AKF’s fundraising community KIDNEYNATION. In its inaugural year, their Annual Kidney Classic youth lacrosse tournament was a great success and raised $7,500 for American Kidney Fund programs and services.
Matt succumbed to his disease in June just after his 31st birthday, leaving a void in his family’s hearts, but not in their resolve to help others in Matt’s memory. Marcus plans to continue the lacrosse tournament each year as a legacy for Matt, and has set an ambitious goal of $15,000 for this year’s event.
“I believe it’s important to find ways to be involved in the community,” says Marcus. “Anyone can set an example for others to follow. AKF helps thousands of Americans in need and they’ve given me an opportunity to be a part of that.”
Caroline L. Fisher, 2017 Cover Artist, Calendar Kids Program
Twelve-year-old Caroline has been on dialysis since 2013. The disease has changed her life in many ways: she had to give up gymnastics, the sport she loved. She is home-schooled rather than going to middle school so that she can be ready to receive a transplant at any time.
But much has not changed. Caroline still loves to draw, and she enjoys sewing, swimming and basketball. Her favorite school subject is math. When she finishes high school, Caroline plans to either become a veterinarian or go to school to learn animation.
Caroline was encouraged by her family and friends to enter the American Kidney Fund’s Calendar Kids Art Contest. While on a drive to see her Aunt Dinah in Arkansas, she caught a glimpse of a horse and decided to draw it. Her drawing, “The Southern Valley,” received the most votes in AKF’s online contest to select the cover of the 2017 American Kidney Fund Calendar.
When asked what advice she would give to other kids with kidney disease, Caroline says, “You might think that it is over, but if you keep fighting and hold on to the things you love, it will get better.” Her mom and dad are her role models, continuously inspiring her to be strong, and remain positive.