Skyler M. Moats - Calendar Kid Cover Artist
Fifteen-year-old Skyler has had kidney disease since the 5th grade. Shortly after she and her sisters came to live with their grandmother in Elkins, West Virginia almost two years ago, Skyler learned that her kidneys were failing and she would need a kidney transplant or would need to start dialysis in the near future.
This past July, on the day she was scheduled to start dialysis and a month before her birthday, Skyler got the call she’d been waiting for – a matching kidney was available for her. She and her family traveled to Pittsburg Children’s Hospital for the transplant.
Skyler’s drawing, “A Fighting Chance,” is meant to inspire other kids who are living with kidney disease to never give up, to be brave, and to know they can get through it. It received the most votes in an online voting contest and appears on the cover of AKF’s 2018 calendar.
Skyler has two younger sisters and is looking forward to a career working with children who have kidney disease.
Luis M. Matos - Hero of Hope
Despite a chronic, debilitating neuromuscular condition that caused his kidneys to fail in 2015, Luis Matos of Ozone Park, New York, had a passion – football, and a mission: helping to take at-risk young men, ages 18-23, off the streets of Newark, New Jersey.
When Luis became too sick to play football, he started a semi-pro team, the New Jersey Hawkeyes. In their first year, the Hawkeyes won a league championship and were a national runner-up. But even more importantly, the players on the team began to see that there are more important options and alternatives open to them beyond life on the streets.
Luis was not only a coach, but also a mentor to these young men who have few positive role models in their lives. Players frequently told him that if it weren’t for the opportunities the team gave them, they would be lost.
His failing health has recently sidelined him from coaching, but Luis is hopeful that he’ll receive a kidney transplant and be able to resume the work that is so important to him.
Justin G. Condon - KIDNEYNATION Excellence Award
When he set out to climb Mount Everest at the end of March, Justin Condon carried 40 pounds of gear and essentials on his back and something far heavier and more precious in his heart: the memory of this father, Gerry, who died of kidney failure in 2015.
Gerry had been Justin’s most ardent supporter in his quest to summit the highest peak on each continent. Everest was to be his sixth – an amazing turnaround for the formerly overweight, overstressed Wall Street IT executive, an Irishman who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. Justin dedicated his climb to the memory of his father and decided to use his expedition to raise money to help kidney patients through the American Kidney Fund.
Justin set a goal of raising $5,000 for the American Kidney Fund, and he surpassed that lofty goal by raising over $25,000 to support AKF programs and services.