Tina and Jason’s daughter Violet was only 21 months old when she got an E. coli infection, which developed into something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and shut down Violet’s kidneys, causing her to have strokes. “Overnight, our lives changed,” Tina shares. Today, five-year-old Violet continues to suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and will one day during her childhood need a kidney transplant.
Photos care of Tina Walde
During their therapeutic journey, Violet’s nephrologist connected her family with Jill Brown, mother of a kidney kid herself as well as Executive Director of Northwest Kidney Kids (NW Kidney Kids), the only organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to providing support to children with kidney disease, dialysis, and post-transplant needs. Nearly 10,000 children in the United States experience kidney failure and require dialysis or transplant to survive; many more live with chronic kidney disease, which means that the kidneys are injured and cannot filter blood like they should, leading to a build-up of waste in the body and potentially leading to kidney failure.
Photos care of Tina Walde
Tina notes, “The life of a Kidney Kid is difficult. Often, children need to take multiple medications, eat a special diet, and monitor their fluid intake. There are many doctor’s appointments and often many missed school days. After a kidney transplant, children become immunocompromised and may have additional restrictions on their activity and exposure to others who are ill. Having a chronic disease can make kids feel depressed and powerless and can impact their ability to make and sustain friendships.”
Enter NW Kidney Kids, which helps connect kidney kids and their families. “Connection is so important for improving self-esteem and peer support,” Tina asserts. One way in which NW Kidney Kids provides opportunities to naturally strengthen connection is by offering the opportunity to attend ballets, basketball games, and summer camps together to kidney kids and their families. Tina points out that through participation in these and other activities, “kids and their families learn how to reduce stress, engage in their communities, and connect to critical resources while developing lifelong friendships with people at all stages of the journey.”
As for where Violet is in her journey, thanks to her indomitable spirit, her parents’ dedication to her progress, NW Kidney Kids (whose board of directors Tina joined last year), and years of occupational, speech, and physical therapy, Violet has learned to walk, talk, and eat again. We are proud that our PLAE shoes, being lightweight and accommodating of Violet’s orthotics, have even played a small role in supporting Violet’s quest to walk again.
All the great work NW Kidney Kids does - including offering the Suzanne Billings Memorial Scholarship, so named in honor of a pediatric social worker who tirelessly advocated for kidney kids and their families, to eligible college-aged kidney kids - is funded by NW Kidney Kids’ persistent fundraising. Now Tina and Violet’s ambassadorship with PLAE-It-Forward will add another branch to NW Kidney Kids’ fundraising platforms. Use promo code GIVE939 at checkout when you buy your next pair of PLAE kicks and 10% of your purchase price will be donated to Northwest Kidney Kids.