One Walk Begins a Journey

National Team Spotlight: Team Aetna

Thanks to one inspiring woman, Team Aetna has made a name for themselves at the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Walk.

For Itty Beck, becoming involved with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) was no question. At the age of 11, her brother Justin Beck was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.  The diabetes caused many health issues, and Justin was forced to undergo a kidney transplant at the age of 30 and a pancreas transplant 3 years later.

Having witnessed how the transplant changed her brother’s life, Itty knew she had to pay it forward.

Christine, Justin, Itty in 2014

Christine, Justin, Itty in 2014

“Once I saw how the transplant changed my brother’s life, I knew I wanted to donate. But the timing was never right and I wasn’t fully aware of how to make that happen,” said Beck.

Through a mutual friend, Itty learned of a woman named Christine awaiting a kidney transplant, and jumped at the opportunity to see if she was a match. Unfortunately, Itty was not a match for Christine but UPMC Montefiore hospital suggested the two women participate in a kidney exchange program.  On December 27, 2012, Itty was approved to be a donor. And within two days, matches were found with 10 people from all over the country participating in the swap.

With both her brother and new friend, Christine, inspiring her to take action in the fight against kidney disease, Itty searched for the right opportunity to get involved. In 2013, thanks to the support and generosity of her friends and family, Itty formed a team of 12 walkers called “Team Share Your Spare” to rally in the Pittsburgh Kidney Walk.

Team Share Your Spare in 2013

                                Team Share Your Spare in 2013

“When I learned of the walk and where it took place, I couldn’t help but think of what a perfect coincidence it was.” said Beck.  “My family and I were actually at the Pittsburgh Zoo the day that my brother started acting a little strange and we took him straight to Children’s hospital.  It was that day that would change our lives forever as he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.”What Itty did not realize was that this one walk was only the beginning of her journey with NKF. The following year, with support from her company, Aetna, Itty pursued the process of forming a corporate team.  By 2015, Itty had worked with multiple Aetna locations to form additional teams across the country, taking on the role as National Lead.

To date, Itty has spurred 15 teams across the country, totaling 150 walkers, and together raising $17,000.00.

“I thank my bosses and my management teams for allowing me take on the role of National Lead,” said Beck. “I love being that voice for my company, and having the ability to work together with Aetna employees from all over the country has been an awesome experience. I’m amazed by how many people have responded so positively.”

Justin is now 36 years old and continues to do very well. Both Christine and Itty are in great health. Itty encourages everyone who is interested in forming their own corporate team to become a leader at their workplace and “go all out.”

“I am so thankful of how much my life has improved since donating my kidney,” said Beck. “That one decision set so many others into motion and I’m so excited for the opportunities that are still to come.”

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2015 Kidney Walk Thank You Video

At the 91 kidney walks around the country last year, we broke some big records — 85,000 walkers, 6,300 teams and more than $9 million dollars raised. That will go a long way to fighting kidney disease and funding NKF’s life-saving programs and initiatives. National Kidney Foundation CEO Kevin Longino has a special thank you message to all those who participated in a 2015 Kidney Walk. Did you see him at your local walk?

We look forward to seeing you again at a 2016 Kidney Walk! You can register today at www.kidneywalk.org