Monday, June 18, 2007
Saturday, Denise and I volunteered for the NW Kidney Foundation at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Qwest Field. Over 1.8 million dollars were raised for breast cancer research. Denise and I took turns morphing into a 7 foot tall blue Kidney, named Sidney Kidney. We had a lot of fun interacting with all the 16 thousand folks that participated in the event. I am always amazed by the people who are fascinated by Sidney Kidney and want their pictures taken with him (when I am inside) or her (when Denise is inside). And age doesn't seem to matter. Some children are so fascinated that they have to be dragged away by their parents. Some return again and again to shake Sidney's hand and to wave, hi.
Many of the participants wore pink forms on their backs that said, "In Memory Of" followed by the names of those who died from breast cancer. While Denise was in the Sidney Kidney costume, a little girl about 4 or 5 years old, became fascinated with Sidney Kidney. They danced to the music and had a fun time together. When the little girl turned to leave, Denise noticed that she, too, wore a pink sheet on her back. It said, "In Memory of Mommy". Denise was grateful that no one could see her tears in the Sidney Kidney costume.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Congratulations To Our 2006 Volunteers Of The Year
Congratulations to Denise and Mushroom Montoya, NKC’s Volunteers of the Year 2006! They have been very involved with our organization for an impressive ten years, and thankfully show no signs of stopping.
Denise and Mushroom began volunteering in 1995, in order to implement the then-new pilot program, Together for Life (TFL). They worked closely with Rev. Roger Decker, a bereavement counselor at the Northwest Organ Procurement Agency (NOPA). Rev. Decker noticed that grieving family members experienced profound healing when their loved one was able to become an organ or tissue donor after death. This inspired him to found TFL, a pioneering educational program about organ and tissue donation.
In the mid-‘90s, things were a little different. Donation by living kidney donors was unusual. Donation after death was considered “the norm”, but family consent was required. To top it off, Americans had trouble talking about death. All this meant that there was a great need for organ donors, and much work to be done.
Enter Denise and Mushroom. Three years earlier, their beloved son, Jeremy, died tragically in a motorcycle accident when he was just 20 years old. They had gone through intense grief, but luckily had come out the other side. They found it healing to talk about their experiences. They had even met some of the recipients of their son’s precious organs. They wanted to help other families, and promote organ donation. So, they became TFL speakers, and have told their story to thousands of people. They have spoken at hospitals, churches, synagogues, colleges, high schools, Rotary groups, and more. Everywhere they went, audiences were moved to tears…and action: they signed donor cards and talked to their families about organ donation.
Since pioneering the TFL program, Denise and Mushroom have contributed to NKC in many ways. Both are members of our Speakers Bureau. They represent NKC, and educate the community, at outreach events such as Hispanic Seafair, Chinatown-International District Summer Festival, Filipino Seafair, and more. Denise is an active member of NKC’s Regional Council Southeast. Both participate in NKC’s Day in Olympia, helping spread the word about kidney disease to legislators. Most recently, they have been integral to the inauguration of NKC’s mascot, Sidney. They help take Sidney to the community, thereby putting smiles on lots of children’s (and adults’) faces!