“We’re both kidney recipients but we didn’t know it about each other because that’s the way this disease is,” Jami said. “No one talks about it, you don’t know if someone you pass in the street has it.”
Jami has a rare kidney ailment known as Dense Deposit disease. She’s had two kidney transplants and the second one has lasted 11 years already. Kristin was born with kidney damage and had her transplant about a year and half ago. When a company newsletter highlighted Kristin’s transplant, the two forged a friendship and share a dedication to the kidney cause.
“We wanted to combine our efforts and find an organization we could get behind,” Jami said. “We wanted to let people know they aren’t alone, that there are people out there who have been through this and want to help.”
Both Jami and Kristin have taken part in other charity walks, but this time they decided to start their own event dedicated to the fight against kidney disease. For the past few months they have been worked to organize the first-ever National Kidney Foundation Southeast Iowa Kidney Walk to be held in Ottumwa.
“We reserved a pretty big park, planned the route and made a Facebook page,” Jami said. “We recently got our first donation from a local business in Fairfield, and a lot of businesses said they would put together a team and will be there. Our workplace is going to help out too, along with Walgreens. It seems people are getting really excited.”
While starting out small this year, both Jami and Kristin are looking forward to continuing the Ottumwa event and making an impact locally in the lives of kidney patients.