The Ottumwa Courier

October 4, 2012

Pair of transplant recipients begins Kidney Walk in Ottumwa

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Next weekend’s 2012 Kidney Walk is being organized by two co-workers who never knew how much they had in common.

Jami Kaelin and Kristin Wilson work at Community 1st Credit Union, each at different Ottumwa branches. An article in the company newsletter caught Kaelin’s eye — Wilson had a kidney transplant a year and a half ago.

This was significant because Kaelin herself has had two kidney transplants, the last one 11 years ago. This piece of news created a special bond that led to many conversations.

“There are risk factors, but until your doctor runs tests, you never know that your kidney function out of whack,” Kaelin explained. “The symptoms are similar to other things, and it’s just one of those things you don’t hear about.”

They had each been part of other walks for other organizations but wanted to do something specifically for fighting kidney disease. So the two put together their dream of doing a kidney walk in Ottumwa and are really seeing some interest.

“We’ve said we’d be happy with 20 people. That looks like a pretty decent group,” Kaelin said. “But there are people signing up online, and a couple of teams have already said they’ll have at least 20 people. That’s when it became real.”

The 2012 Kidney Walk is scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Jimmy Jones Pavilion in Ottumwa. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with the walk beginning at 10 a.m. The one-mile, noncompetitive walk will be followed by many activities for the children. There will also be a raffle for gift baskets, one each for women, men and children.

Those interested in supporting the event can form a team, walk as an individual or donate online without having to walk at all.

“One team is walking in memory of a little boy who passed away from kidney disease. That reminds us why we’re doing this,” Kaelin said.

One special feature of the Kidney Walk is the creation of walls at the start of the event. The in-memory-of wall will be filled with pictures and stories of those who have passed away from kidney disease. The in-honor-of wall will features survivors and those who have donated kidneys for transplant.

 At the end of the day, Wilson says the event is about creating an event that addresses a serious topic but also creates a time of fellowship and fun.

“We want them to think this was something fun and well worth their time and a good charity to get involved with,” Wilson said.

All proceeds from the event will go to the National Kidney Foundation of Iowa. The organization will use the funds for the prevention of kidney disease, improve the health of those affected by the disease and increasing the availability of organs and transplantation.

On the web:

To form a team, join a team or register as an individual walker, visit Click on “Find A Walk” and scroll down to Iowa, then click on Ottumwa.