WLAA Volunteer Spotlight: Parents bring mom power to National Kidney Foundation


I am not a parent, but I’ve been told that as a parent, you’ll do anything (within reason) for your child and, from the first moment you see your baby’s smiling face, unconditional love swallows you up.

Recently, I spoke with three mothers who exemplify this type of love and commitment.

“My son, Eli, was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure at birth and was on peritoneal dialysis until his second birthday when he received my kidney,” Rachel Rost, 34 of Macomb Township, told me.

Rochester Hills resident Jessica Hale, 33, shared a similar story.

“My daughter Amelia was born with kidney disease,” she said. “My husband was a match, but he was not able to donate. I was not a match, but I was able to donate my kidney as part of a paired donation program, where I donated mine to another family in return for a kidney for my daughter.”

Valerie Kropf, 34 of Clinton Township, does everything she can to help her daughter Natalie, who was born with only one functional kidney, live a healthy life.

These three women are now a “force to be reckoned with” as National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) volunteers, says Joyce Williams, Communications Specialist for the organization, which is located in Ann Arbor.
After they met, Rost, Hale and Kropf, formed a powerful and impactful trio that’s on course to make a huge difference in the lives of those suffering from kidney-related afflictions and their families.

“I was so compelled to become involved once I heard of the National Kidney Foundation and what they meant to the ‘kidney community,’” Kropf says. “A cure is yet to be found for this disease that touches so many lives in so many ways. The more money that is raised, the better the treatments, programs and better the odds of finding that elusive cure! What initially began as a ‘ripple in a pond’ feeling, has quickly matured into visible and tangible waves.”

The NKFM is committed to preventing kidney disease and improving the quality of life for those living with it. They also focus on the root causes of kidney disease which are obesity, diabetes and hypertension to help people avoid this disease altogether, because 70 percent of cases can be prevented, according to the NKFM.

Rost knows her time as a volunteer is well-spent, not only because of the organization’s mission, but because of its heart.

“We hope that one day the funds raised for research will lead to longer, more viable treatment options or a cure for kidney disease,” she says. “The people who work for the kidney foundation are just amazingly selfless people who love what they do and have always expressed gratitude for the effort volunteers put into fundraising.”

The biggest project the three take on for the NKFM is the annual Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo, which is set for Sunday, May 20. From 7:30-10:30 a.m., participants will enjoy admission to the zoo, food, entertainment and family fun activities like face painting and temporary tattoos. It’s requested that each walker over the age of 12 raises $25 and those between 3-12 raise $10 to help reach the $600,000 goal.

This year, the trio worked together to fund their teams – Team Eli, Kidney for Amelia and Team Nani – and raised over $3,500 in a bowling fundraiser for the walk, an event they plan to do again next year.

In the past, Rost led garage sales with Kropf’s help, in which 100 percent of the proceeds went towards walk team donations. Neighbors and friends were happy to donate unwanted items for the sale and they raised an average of $1,000 to $1,500 per event.

“As a mother of a child with kidney disease, I know what it feels like to be waiting for a kidney,” Hale says. “I also know what it feels like not to be able to help your child, not one parent should have to feel this way.”

Consider supporting the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and register for the Kidney Walk here: http://donate.kidney.org/site/TR/Walk/Michigan?pg=entry&fr_id=8793

Please nominate someone for our volunteer series to tajacoby@comcast.net

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