What do you do in times of COVID when you’re seeking to create some connection with others? Six of us at Kidney Donor Athletes decided to organize and participate in a virtual Yahtzee tournament where we would play each other in a tournament format, keeping track of winners for each of the matches, the top four advancing to the semifinals, and eventually two of us, sorry Jay Irwin, advancing to the championship.

Along the way, we got to meet new friends, share many laughs, and begin bonding together. After the championship match, we gathered for a virtual happy hour. It was at this happy hour when one of the participants said she and her husband were planning a trip to Kilimanjaro for a future wedding anniversary. Well, this group was now very comfortable with each other and it didn’t take long before the idea was hatched for us to all go climb Kili together! The idea quickly expanded to the greater KDA community, and now we’re here, less than two months away from 22 of us beginning our climb of Kili!!

I was introduced to people in this great community before I donated. In fact, five of them called me from Denver the night before my surgery to give me all the good vibes for my big day! Who does that??? I’ve heard this KDA community described as: “the best”, “like family”, and “the best part of my donation journey”. Those in the community will be reading this shaking their heads in agreement

When people bond together, dedicated to a common goal, the most incredible things can happen!! Over the past several months it’s been a great honor to be part of an ever-growing army of people in the KDA community who have stepped up and jumped in to do what they can do to help this mission. And speaking of mission, how’s this for KDA’s mission: To promote the gift of life through living kidney donation among active individuals and athletes by building a community that inspires, supports, and educates people about the experience of kidney donation. I’d say this One Kidney Kili Climb is checking all of those boxes!

We all look forward to showing the world that living donors can be healthy and thrive with one kidney. The potential impact of this expedition is seemingly limitless. We hope the support for this climb will help fund the initiatives and activities KDA has lined up in our 3-year strategic plan…it’s all SUPER exciting!!!

From all of us at KDA, we are excited to be taking on this challenge, thrilled to be introducing each of the climbers to the general public, and inspired to do everything we can to continue to spread the word about living donation. We hope you enjoy the trek with us! 

As founder Tracey Hulick so expertly commented: “This expedition can have a monumental impact that has never been achieved in the living donor space. We have the potential to educate thousands upon thousands of people!”

To learn more about being a living kidney donor, visit Kidney Donor Registry for more information.

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