Kidney Walk Brings Together Friends, Families to Celebrate

About 200 patients, friends, family members, transplant recipients and donors came together for a common cause Saturday in White River State Park – the National Kidney Foundation’s Indiana Kidney Walk.

Surrounded by his wife and three sons Greg Kaiser was all smiles Saturday. He was celebrating the gift of life. His brother Mark Kaiser donated that gift – a new kidney.

Under the care of IU Health surgeon Dr. William Goggins, Greg Kaiser received a kidney transplant on Sept. 27, 2018. On Saturday, he celebrated during the National Kidney Foundation’s Indiana Kidney Walk.

Kaiser, from Indianapolis was in good company. People came from throughout the state and across state lines to participate in the walk that raised awareness of the prevention of kidney disease and the need for organ donation.

Susan Fritz, general manager with AT & T joined her co-workers who left in a caravan of cars at 4:30 a.m. from their company call center in Rantoul, Ill. They were walking under the name “Team La Familia Tuggle,” in honor of a co-worker who had a kidney transplant.

“Indiana was the closest walk and it was worth the drive,” said Fritz. “This is a day to celebrate those who have had a transplant and those who are waiting.”

Winston, a four-year-old Collie/Golden Retriever mix joined his owner nephrology research coordinator Kimberly Swinney, and daughters Kendra and Samantha for the walk. They were part of the IU Health team “Kidney Kickers.”

Several members of the Team Indiana Transplant walked including Brook Zander who received a double lung transplant at IU Health on March 14, 2015. Other patients who participate in the World Transplant Games joined her.

A group from the Indiana Department of Corrections “The Kidney Detectives” participated in the walk in honor of inmates who receive kidney dialysis. Awaiting a kidney transplant, Martha Tebbe, who is in the care of IU Health kidney disease specialist Dr. Michele Cabellon, joined her team “Martha’s Minions.”

Team Mason raised $10,000 for this year’s Kidney Walk. The 14-member team was walking in memory of Mason Patton, who died in 2014 due to complications from acute kidney disease. His mom, Denise Patton, Crawfordsville, has spearheaded a number of fundraising and educational efforts to bring awareness to kidney disease.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) results in damage to the kidney. It can increase the risk of other health complications including high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage. It’s estimated that 30 million adults have CKD and millions more are at an increased risk of developing CKD. Early detection can help prevent progression of the disease. Those at risk include people with diabetes, hypertension and a family history of kidney failure.

Tapasha Davidson received a kidney transplant in 2012 and her brother Frank Davidson received his transplant in 2013. Tapasha is back on the transplant list. Both family members were diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. On Saturday, Tapasha joined her mother Becky Davidson for the Kidney Walk.

“We just want to help others learn more about the diseases and to spread awareness for people waiting for transplants and those who have been,” said Becky Davidson.

Young Liam Essex, 6 is one of those who is a hero in the eyes of his parents Brent and Kelly Essex. Dressed in Jurassic Park t-shirts the family, including Liam’s younger brother; Nolan came out to demonstrate the strength of their young “Renal-saurus.” Liam was born with one kidney.

“We’re here to show that he can have a normal life,” said his mom. “We wanted to come here as a family and to be here for others.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email