Dear National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho,
Thank you for your help with the debt I owed to Les Schwab Tire Center for fixing my car. I have to travel approximately 60 miles to dialysis 4 days a week for my dialysis treatments. The gas and car maintenance expenses have been very hard on me. I have been struggling to keep current with my bills since I started dialysis. I appreciate your help so very much. Every little bit helps. The Kidney Foundation of Utah is so wonderful to help those of us with kidney failure in such dire need. Thank you for your assistance. Once again, God bless you and thank you!
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Dear National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho,
My son Derek passed away July 1, 2016. He was born with no kidney in 1995. Right after Derek was born he was life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital. Our journey of hospital stays, surgeries, tests, and constant poking started the day he was born. I gave Derek my kidney when he was 6, in 2001. Through the Foundation, my costs were paid to donate my kidney to Derek. Unfortunately, he lost that kidney to BK Virus and renal cell carcinoma in 2004. We waited nearly 5 years for another kidney. During that time, he required dialysis. As we live on the Utah/Wyoming border. Because there are no pediatric dialysis centers there, I was trained to be a dialysis tech. We did home hemo dialysis. In 2009 Derek received a kidney from a man that died in an accident. That kidney was a wonderful gift that gave Derek a normal life till his recent passing from leukemia. During those years The National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho, through different programs, gave Derek a somewhat normal childhood. He loved Lagoon Day, going to Youth Transplant Kamp at Camp Kostopoulis, and going to IT school because of a Kidney Patient Scholarship provided by the Foundation. As the National Kidney Foundation of Utah does so much for families like ours, I wanted to give back somehow. When Derek passed away, I set up a memorial fund in his name for pediatric kidney patients. In all, $850 was donated in Derek’s name. If possible, I would like this money to be used to help another child have a “Normal” life. Whether it be for camp scholarships, Lagoon Day, expenses of a family in need with a child who has kidney failure. God bless. Thank you. Kali B.
A letter left for us in a Kidney Kar donation today:
Dear NKF of Utah,
I am donating “Ruby” in honor of my father who endured so much dialysis and hoped for a new kidney but eventually succumbed to renal failure. Please make good use of her and help as many people as you can. Thank you for the opportunity to be able to give this away.
Love and Hope, Cristina and Josie.
Ready for your Monday Cry? This is a dad with heart.
PITTSBURGH — “It has been the best day of my life,” a Pennsylvania bride said of her wedding day.
Jeni Stepien is now officially a married woman, and she told CBS Pittsburgh the day wouldn’t have been possible without Arthur Thomas.
“You can never imagine what that would be like unless you actually do it because so many emotions involved in what you’re doing,” Thomas said.
Arthur, fondly known as ‘Tom,’ traveled from New Jersey to walk Jeni down the aisle at St. Anselm church in Swissvale, since her father couldn’t be there.
Jeni met Tom for the first time on the eve of her wedding, when she felt her father’s heart beat for the first time in 10 years. Michael Stepien was murdered in Swissvale back in 2006.
Tom received Michael’s heart after his death.
“I was on death’s door when he was murdered and I needed a heart or I was going to be dying in the next few days,” Thomas said.
Jeni asked Tom if he would do the honors in a letter.
“I was just so thankful that my dad could be here with us today in spirit and a piece of his physical being as well. That was really special for us,” she said.
Jeni’s groom was also moved by the gesture.
“I was just overtaken with emotions when I finally saw her walking down. The most beautiful woman in the world that I’ve ever seen before,” Paul Maenner said.
“What a greater honor could a person have than walking the daughter of the man who’s given his heart to him. I can’t imagine a greater honor,” Thomas said.
‘Success Kid’ helps fund dad’s kidney transplant
Posted: Aug 19, 2015 7:19 AM MDTUpdated: Aug 19, 2015 11:23 AM MDT
Remember in 2009, when e-How asked us to do around 20 videos for charity car donation programs and explain the tax benefits and how to donate? http://www.ehow.com/video_4951528_donate-car-kidney-foundation.html
A local Utah videographer called us one morning and asked if the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho’s Kidney Kars program would do about 20 of the selected “Charity Car Donation” topics he’d pulled off the wire. He allowed us to do two that were specific to the Kidney Kars (Utah and Idaho www.towkars.org) and also for the National Kidney Cars program.
It’s 2014 and we are still going strong. Utah and Idaho has been very generous to Kidney Kars and we continue to receive about 5,000 Kidney Kars donations a year. If you want to make your car a Kidney Kar, a car that saves lives call us at (801) 226-5111 or go online www.towkars.org Towing is always free, and Kidney Kars donations make great tax deductions!
It really is December. It’s that time of year again. If you’re smart, instead of spending a ton of money this month consider saving a lot of money this month on you taxes by donating your car to the Kidney Kars program (National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho).
When you donate locally in Utah & Idaho you get a better tax deduction, free towing and the donation stays in our state to benefit local kidney dialysis and transplant patients.
So keep your Kidney Kars donation local and donate online at www.towkars.org or call us at 1-800-tow-Kars.
Last Night we were invited to Kirton McConkie’s 50th Birthday/Anniversary. Since 1991 the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho and the Kidney Kars program has been on the receiving end of many of KMC Law’s charitable donations, use of their facilities for board meetings, and pro-bono (tax, trademark/copywright, contract writing work). They’ve even sent a litigator to small claims to help us address an abuse of process claim brought to the foundation by a local towing company in 2004. Kirton McConkie’s past President, the late Graham Dodd, Esq. was also the president of the NKF of U & I’s Board of Directors for the 3 years prior to his untimely passing. I personally loved Graham for his orange and green checkered wool golf knickers and the title ESQ. which he wore without the slightest irony, because that gentleman was the real deal. We were very lucky to have his guidance and presence for so many years as we were becoming established as one of Utahs most recognizable non-profit organizations.
So yesterday, I arrived at the 4th floor of the Kirton McConkie building ready to mix and mingle. The name tags were laid out on the welcome table and featured a hit list of Utah’s most powerful, smartest, most philanthropic people. I was very lucky to get Pamela Atkinson all to myself for a minute. She’s clearly one of Utah’s foremost philanthropists and the woman for whom several Utah clinics for the less fortunate are rightfully named in her honor. When I introduced myself, and she looked at my name tag she said “Oh yes, I know you ‘ www.towKars.org ‘Kidney Kars’ with a K like kidney. You’re quite well known.” As Director of the Kidney Kars donation program since 1991, as a marketer and a human– I was really, truly flattered. Whilst Ms. Atkinson administered the Intermountain Health Care Foundation grants, the Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho was fortunate enough to receive several grants. Those substantive funding helped us fund Youth Transplant Kamp, our Kidney Patient Financial Aid services, start what is now known as KARE (Kidney Assessment Renal Evaluation) which are free community kidney screenings for Utahns at highest risk of kidney failure.
I was able to visit our board members Jason Beutler (the fine young litigator fresh out of UC Berkeley Law school sent by KMC Law to save us in a ridiculous small claims proceedings) and who is now a trusted NKF U & I board member and friend; as well as Doug Wright (KSL Newradio) also a board member and friend. The view from the KMC Law firm building is beautiful, the catering was magnificent, and the signature Kirton McConkie mocktail ‘cosmo’ and celebratory cookies were yummy. But most of all, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the association and support of such an upstanding firm and to be surrounded by men of integrity and charity. We are very grateful Kirton McConkie Law is celebrating 50 years in Utah! They are truly some Utah’s finest .
Just for fun today, I counted up the number of car donations and the amount of money that I personally have helped the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho raise through the Kidney Kars donation program ( www.towkars.org) . I started the Kidney Kars program the first year I came to the NKF of U & I and the same year I graduated college in 1991. It was one of the first 5 charity car donation programs in the entire country. I asked my best friend, Simeen Brown, an illustration art major (at the time) to create the artwork for the ads. She helped me come up with the 1-800-tow-Kars phone number. I started by putting a free ads and flyers in the Provo, American Fork, Bountiful, Farmington, Ogden and Salt Lake City Utility Bills and city newsletters. Later Zion’s, First Interstate Bank, and Wells Fargo agreed to put our Kidney Cars flyers into customer statements. These efforts reached over 1,000,000 Utahns and pretty soon the phones were ringing off the hook. Previous to the Kidney Kars car donation program YOU had to pay someone to come take your old car away. So, in two states like Utah and Idaho, famously frugal, financially literate, fiscally conservatives– the idea of free towing coupled with the tax deduction went over like wildfire.
So there I was, a young fresh faced girl, just 23 year old and barely out of college hoping to change the world by towing away junk cars. I drove my 1981 silver VW Diesel Rabbit to visit and contract with every wrecking yard in every corner of Utah and Idaho. I put over 20,000 miles on the rabbit that year, and then donated the next year to Kidney Kars with about 285,000 miles on it. (I replaced the rabbit with a 1990 VW Golf GTI). In an industry (towing, wrecking yards, scrap metal) where integrity, charity, and ‘environmentally friendly’ were laughable ideas, I somehow talked them into PAYING US– the Kidney Foundation– for a steady stream of donated cars (and to tow them away for FREE). I cut contracts with agencies whose ‘service center’ consisted of guys shirtless under their overalls, missing teeth, chewing a toothpick with a vacant look in their eyes. With the money I got them to pay us for those car donations, the NKF of U & I was able to fund the first life saving financial aid/patient services programs and began funding local medical research. It was a miracle. At the time, the price of scrap metal was $30 a ton (today it’s more in the $225-350 range). So we were getting between $30-$75 just for junk cars. The third year of operation, a doctor from Sandy, Utah donated a 1963 Mercedes 250 SL convertible with red leather interior and white wall tires. We got England Trucking to haul the car down to the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale for free. The auction donated the sales space and fees. We made $17,600. This single-handedly funded two years of the Kidney Patient Educational Scholarship program (for young adult/ pediatric Kidney Transplant recipients).
It’s weird how I got my motivation and experience to make money for charity by selling used cars. I grew up in East County Southern California with a dad who LOVED cars– Baja bugs, dune buggies, and race cars. He was fond of German engineering and diesel engines. Our garage was bigger than our house and it’s where he spent most of his time. We had no less than 8-10 running cars at any given time. It was my job to change oil, make sure there was water in the battery caps, that the cables were connected, the idle adjusted, and that there was correct air pressure in the tires. I also washed and detailed (vacuumed under seats and shook rugs, Amour All-ed the seats/dash/tires, Windex-ed the windows inside and out, chamois dried the body, and then hand waxed) at least 3 cars every Saturday before I could even THINK about asking to do something fun. But not until I’d assisted my dad further (usually overhauling an engine or transmission) by cleaning his car parts in an open pan of gasoline, and then using a wire brush to scratch off the oily gunk. I got $4.00 per car per full detail, plus a little extra for the garage assist. Today, a detail job like that will run you $60.00 a car.
My favorite cars were my Dad’s Diesel Mercedes 250D, a Porsche 911 and a Porsche 935 (a Candy Apple red, Turbo Carrerra). My Dad is dead now, so I can say this out loud. But one night when he was away (during a full moon) I drove the red Porsche East on Highway 8 through the Ocatillo Desert and the Imperial Valley. That car easily traveled at 120 mph without even engaging the turbo. It was an amazing machine. But, in spite owning an extra Porsche, I was given a 1967 pieced out VW Bug to drive. It had 3 different colored quarter panels. “Pretty girl, Ugly car” is what my Dad always said. We lived on 5 acres of dusty granite with a few horses, and a LOT of cars. That’s how it was.
My first taste of fundraising was at BYU (Provo, Utah). I started the first on campus Woman’s Rights group “Voice”– which I had to help keep funded to keep it alive. Additionally, I worked in the library as a research/reference assistant and helped professors get their grants so I could have a job. After college, a good friend told me his Mother (CEO, Deen Vetterli) was trying to start a fundraising program selling donated used cars. It was the perfect segway between my experience in grant writing and fundraising and a history of working on old cars and being comfortable haggling prices with wrecking yards. By starting the Kidney Kars program, I imagined every wife and daughter in America (whose husband or dad had 8 cars parked around the house) breathing a collective deep sigh of relief. Finally! A tax deduction and free towing as an incentive to get rid of all those cars parked out back. In fact one of the first huge car donation projects publicized on all the news channels, was when a 80 year old retired car dealer in Sunset Utah was given a notice by the city to get rid of his rotting inventory parked out back. He had 40 cars on his property and no way to get rid of them ( http://www.deseretnews.com/article/624713/Foundation-hits-gold-40-old-cars-in-the-mud.html?pg=all). It was huge and together with all the community and municipal support and the Governor’s appointment of the Kidney Kars program to the “Take Pride in Utah” (Utah’s Statehood Centennial Celebration) Kidney Cars and Kidney Kars hit pay dirt and kept on rolling along.
So many generous people have given us their Kidney Car/ Kidney Kars charity car donation in Utah and Idaho. Many, many people repeated their car donations time and again (up to 5 donations in 10 years) just for the tax deduction and the free towing. Even with the changes in the tax law that limits the amount that can be claimed on their taxes, and even the Cash For Clunkers incentive– Utahns and Idahoans have continued to generously give the Kidney Foundation their ‘Kidney Kars’ charity car donations. Such generous, decent people in Utah and Idaho. I pledge allegiance to Utah for giving my weird skill set a purpose and my deepest car related neurosis a therapeutic outlet.
I have personally overseen every single aspect of the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho’s Kidney Kars / Kidney Cars donation program (1-800-Tow-Kars and the development of www.towKars.org). I am proud to say, we have received and sold more than 92,000 vehicle donations and raised over $20,000,000 dollars on behalf of Utah and Idaho Kidney Patients.
Kidney disease and dialysis are so miserable for so many people. I have made and lost so many friends to Kidney Failure since 1991. How can I thank the Kidney Foundation enough for giving me a meaningful little place in the world to help save lives and help lighten the burden and improve the quality of life for Utah and Idaho Kidney patients?
I can personally assure you that your Kidney Cars/Kidney Kars donation in Utah and Idaho is put to amazing good use locally.
Luz Lewis Perez
I had your 8th grade health class last year and heard the Kids and Kidneys presentation.
You’re probably wondering why I am emailing you out of the blue. It’s not to see if you remember ME out of thousands of students but rather, I just thought you might be interested to know that your class has changed my life, and hopefully is about to change someone else’s. Ever since your Kidney Organ Donation activity I have been so interested in Organ Donation and have always wanted to be able to donate.
When I was younger I thought the only way was to hope that donation after death would be a possibility for me. As I got older, I realized living donation is something I would be willing to do for someone I loved. I secretly wanted to know someone, who knew someone that needed a donation. Earlier this year, I realized that I do not need to wait for someone I know to become sick, as I researched ‘Good Samaritan’ donors.
I have now “applied” for Good Samaritan donation through YES Utah. I have undergone a medical history evaluation for living kidney donation to a person in need. I have my first testing appointment today, and will continue to test to find a match. I’m am beyond excited for this. To be able to improve someone’s quality of life like this would be a dream come true. My fingers are crossed that I will for sure be able to be a donor, without problems.
I just wanted to let you know that without your class I would have not considered this to the extent it took. I wouldn’t have been nearly as interested, and it wouldn’t have been something I always think about. Thank you for your inspiration.