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Kidney Foundation Utah Donates Scholarship to Kidney Transplant Patient

    September 25th, 2014

To whom it may concern,

Thank you so very much for once again accepting my request for a scholarship. You guys are truly amazing! I am so grateful for all that you have done. I am in my third semester here at SLCC, I am almost finished with my pre-requisites to get in to nursing school. I will be able to apply next fall. I hope I have exceeded expectations you had for me. I can honestly and proudly say that I have exceeded my own expectations I had for myself in college.

Once again, I thank you so very much. Because of all my kidney problems and my transplant, the National Kidney Foundation will always have a special place in my heart for all that you do.

Thank you,
Spencer J.

Danny Thompson 64, son of Mickey and Judy Thompson attempts 500 MPH in Utah

    August 8th, 2014

I grew up around car people.  My Dad ran hod rods through the orange groves of Riverside California with buddies, the likes of NASCAR’s Dan Gurney and preceded by the legend of Mickey Thompson out near Laguna Beach.  I grew up surrounded by all those old timey southern California car guys.  They told high school stories of souped up jalopies, drag races, submarine races, Levi’s and duck tails.  The smell of Ethanol and Nitro bring literal and figurative tears to my eyes remembering my own youthful days spent at road races, the Baja 500/1000 and the speedways.  When my Dad passed away in 2006 we had to Danny Thompson nitrclean out the house.  We had an 1800 Sq. Ft. 6 car garage and 3 sheds.  They were filled with transmissions, engines, engine stands, heavy duty floor jacks, parts and parts and parts, tools  that had first belonged to his father, and later to him.  

I knew the ‘estate’ sale we were to hold would bring a special crowd of friends and acquaintances coming to solemnly relieve us of things they had coveted — his “baby grand’ a mini race car with a Hayabusa engine, the road racers (class 4), Baja Bugs (class 5), his the 4 wheelers we’d ridden from San Felipe to Mulege in Baja and hand welded dune buggies I’d ridden in since I was 3.  This on top of all his cars (Mercedez 350 D, Datsun mini truck, Toyota T100, Ford Ranchero, Porche 911, and two VW Siroccos).

Of course I donated most of the older cars to the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Cars program for a tax deduction ( or in Utah & Idaho). The towing was free, and we got tax deductions on the donations.  But the rest, we sold.

Coming up on this time of year in Utah makes me think of him.  We used to take trips outside of Salt Lake City, Utah with his buds for “speed week”  to watch the spectacle races races on the Utah Salt Flats (Bonneville).  This week the son of Micky Thompson (who broke 400 mph in 1960) will attempt a record breaking 436 MPH+.  Word is, his Dad never wanted him racing –worried he’d die in a crash.

Judy kissing Micky Thompson

All I can say is, I know what it’s like to have a Dad whose memory leaves you a  legacy you’re willing to lose your life chasing after just to feel close to them.  Good luck Danny!  I hope the Utah Salt Flats dry out soon.  Let us know if you need Kidney Cars car donation of Utah and Idaho to come out and tow away any junkers left behind!  But I know better than anyone — old race cars never die they just go round and round.  — Luz Lewis

Danny and Micky Thompson

Kalee (a former Salt Lake City pediatric kidney transplant recipient) pays it forward by donating her first “Kidney Kar”

    June 30th, 2014

Kalee's car

Make your car a Kidney Kar a car that saves lives!

Seems like just yesterday Kalee was a curious, active, bright eyed toddler with little tubes peeking out from underneath her shirt while playing with my daughter at Kidney Kamp. Kalee got a kidney transplant when she was 10. She’s now a bright young High School graduate ready to start her studies in Occupational Therapy. Kalee’s mom called Friday to donate Kalee’s ‘first car’ (1997 Toyota Camry). Thank you for paying it forward ladies! Kalee, we’ve got a Kidney Patient Educational Scholarship with your name on it!

A brief history of the Kidney Kars donation program, 1-800-Tow-Kars and

    June 25th, 2014

kidney kars vw

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 ( . 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).

kidney kars original artwork 1

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 ( 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 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

Fourteen Kidney Kars donations on Friday 13th.

    June 13th, 2014

donate the darn car
Friday the 13th may be scary for some of you, but not for the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho’s Kidney Kars program. Fourteen cars were donated on Friday, June 13th. The car donations came from Salt Lake City, Layton, Provo, Bountiful and as far as St. George. That is nearly $12,000 raised for Utah kidney patients and local Utah medical research in one afternoon!

Edwards, McBride rescue Rivalry for Charity golf tournament

    June 10th, 2014

coach mcbrideEdwards, McBride rescue Rivalry for Charity golf tournament

College football » Whittingham, Mendenhall absent, but annual Rivalry for Charity goes on.

By Jay Drew

| The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Jun 09 2014 05:25 pm
Last Updated Jun 09 2014 10:40 pm

Sandy • For the first time since its inception in 1989, the annual Rivalry for Charity golf tournament on Monday pitting teams from the University of Utah and BYU didn’t feature at least one of the head football coaches from those schools.

But the show went on at Hidden Valley Country Club, and so did the laughs, thanks to the former coaches — BYU’s LaVell Edwards and Utah’s Ron McBride — the guys who made the 26th annual event benefitting the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho what it has become, a staple on the early June calendar for media outlets hungry for sound bites and college football news of any kind.

The foundation’s official position was that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall couldn’t make it because they were busy conducting youth football camps on their respective campuses. But it has not been a secret that the instate coaching peers have grown weary of appearing at the event, especially Mendenhall, a non-golfer who seemingly always lost to Whittingham because the Ute coach insisted on bringing professional golfers or polished amateurs. Mendenhall brought football players to compete in the four-man scramble format and liked to use it as a bonding experience.

What will happen next year remains to be seen.

The format changed Monday, but longtime friends Edwards and McBride rescued it again, even if their “teams” didn’t face off for the Kidney Cup.

This time, the BYU team featured former football players Hans Olsen, Brian Kehl, Ben Criddle and Carlos Nuno, although Olsen had to leave early for his radio gig and the team’s scorekeeper had to fill in the last few holes. Former Utah quarterback Frank Dolce good-naturedly complained about that rules violation, while admitting that his team didn’t exactly stick to the guidelines either because it had just one other former Ute football player, quarterback Todd Handley. The other two golfers were Andy Waters and Greg Boyce.

“Apparently, Hans Olsen had some cramps and was unable to finish,” Dolce quipped, an obvious reference to LeBron James’ struggles in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Naturally, it ended in a tie, with both teams shooting 5-under-par 67s, according to master of ceremonies Rod Zundel, who may or may not have adjusted some scores for dramatic effect.

After it was decided that both teams would have to sing their rivals’ fight song to break the tie, McBride joined the red-clad golfers and crooned a scripted alteration of “Rise and Shout” that included references to the “trail to pain and sorrow” and “my heck is the word if we lose the game tomorrow.”

Edwards joined the former Cougars in singing “Utah Man,” but their scripted account went something like “I am a Utah man, sir, a thought that makes me green … the greenest you’ve ever seen … I’ll be a Utah man until I qualify for the Y.”

When the discussion turned to Olsen having a job in radio, McBride invoked the famous line of former Cougar Lenny Gomes and told Edwards, “At least I’m not pumping your gas.”

Edwards, 83, could afford to smile at that, because he teamed with Derek Roney, Ryan Rice and Richard Watson to win the entire tournament, shooting a 14-under 58. They won TaylorMade drivers and an invitation to play in the Liberty Mutual Invitational at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., next spring.

“We made a lot of 15-foot putts that you don’t normally make, and it came down to the last putter on two or three of them,” Edwards said.

McBride’s team of Bob Mueller, Dennis Ford and Wes Roberts shot a 61.

Asked about his health, Edwards, 83, said he is doing all right but gets tired at times.

“A few holes today, I didn’t play, I just putted. I putted pretty good. They didn’t use my drives, though,” he said, noting that his heart is “good” after undergoing open-heart surgery in December of 2012.

“Now if I had a back and a hip and feet that were better, I would be all right,” the Hall of Fame coach concluded.

Twitter: @drewjay

BYU legend LaVell Edwards gets one more win at charity golf tournament

    June 10th, 2014

daily hearald

10 hours ago  •  Jared Lloyd Daily Herald

He hasn’t represented the BYU football team on the gridiron for more than 13 years. He wasn’t even officially representing the Cougars on the golf course Monday at Hidden Valley Country Club.

But in the 26th annual Liberty Mutual Invitational charity golf tournament benefitting the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, Hall-of-Famer LaVell Edwards proved that — even at 83-years-young — he still knows how to win.

Yes, that’s right … once again the legendary former Cougar coach led a team to victory.

Edwards was joined by Derek Roney, Ryan Rice and Richard Watson to shoot a 58 in the scramble-format competition, edging out the next two teams by one stroke.

“We had one guy who could hit it a long way and he was very accurate,” Edwards said. “That really helped, but then we made a lot of 10- to 15-foot putts, which you don’t normally make. It came down to the last putter on two or three of them and the guy made them. I think that’s what did it.”

Deen Vetterli, the CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, said it was a spectacular result.

“That was so cool,” Vetterli said. “That was so exciting to have that result.”

In a year where football camps kept BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham from participating, Edwards turned out to once again step up to make the event memorable for the many generous participants.

He just smiled when asked about his contribution on the course.

“I can’t hit it very far now but I made a few putts, which is the only thing I did to help,” Edwards said.

He said he’s still healthy, but he gets tired.

“There were a few holes I didn’t play, but I putted,” he said. “I putted pretty good though. The heart’s good now. If I had a back and hip and feet that were better, that would be all right.”

Vetterli said that in the 26 years that the Kidney Foundation has put on the tournament, no one has done more to ensure its success than Edwards.

“I can’t tell you how important it is for us to have LaVell Edwards with us,” she said. “He has single-handedly helped us achieve the kind of public relations and credibility that we have had since this began. Everyone knows him and he is so gracious and kind. He’s the foundation and the strength of this tournament.”

Vetterli recalled a special event the Kidney Foundation put on 10 or 15 years ago in which they brought in a number of fellow coaches from all over the country to honor Edwards.

“He came up to me after that event and said that if there was anything he could ever do for us, let him know,” Vetterli said. “He’s done it ever since then.”

While Edwards stole the show, BYU and Utah still had teams of (some) former football players officially taking Mendenhall’s and Whittingham’s places representing the schools.

And, as is usual in the “Rivalry for Charity” event, the two teams didn’t see eye-to-eye on how things went.

“You (BYU) don’t have a full squad because Hans Olsen had a cramp issue,” said former Ute quarterback Frank Dolce, who organized the Utah foursome. “And there was an illegal substitution as well.”

Ex-Cougar defensive back Ben Criddle fired back: “We had a substitution, but you have to view this as a little bit of a disqualification. He (Dolce) doesn’t have any former football players on his team. He’s the only football player on that squad and that was the original rule.”

Vetterli said that type of thing is just what the tournament has come to expect.

“When Ron (McBride) and LaVell played, they were always doing wild things,” she said. “We were almost afraid to look. McBride couldn’t believe it when he found out LaVell had won this year. Those two guys are so great, so that was fun.”

The other two BYU representatives turned out to be former Cougar linebacker Bryan Kehl and ex-BYU tight end Carlos Nuño.

The end result Monday was a tie (both foursomes shot a 67) and thus they both ended up “singing” a garbled rendition of the other team’s fight song.

“They were such good sports about it and such nice guys,” Vetterli said. “Several of them came up afterwards and said thanks for the opportunity. It was fun to have them sing those songs, even if you couldn’t understand them.”

Overall, Vetterli estimated that the charity tournament would raise somewhere around $60,000 for the Kidney Foundation to use to help those dealing with kidney disease. She said that she feels fortunate to be able to see those donations turn into life-saving aid.

“I talk to my staff about anyone who gets tired or it gets difficult like any other job,” she said. “But we get five or six letters per week from patients who say, ‘You literally saved my home’ or ‘You literally saved me from having to go on dialysis.’ By far the most fulfilling part of my job is signing those checks that go directly to the patients. That’s the most exciting part to be able to do that because we can really see that we’re making a difference.”

Daily Herald sports editor ​Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

Rivalry Brews On Golf Course for Kidney Foundation

    June 10th, 2014

fox news

SANDY, Utah — The rivalry between Utah and BYU was back on the golf course for the Liberty Mutual Invitational at Hidden Valley Country Club, which benefits the Kidney Foundation.

Former Utah quarterback Frank Dolce captained the Utes team against former BYU football players Hans Olsen, Ben Criddle, Bryan Kehl and Carlos Nuno. Both teams made birdies on their final holes to end up tied at the end of the match.

So, both teams had to sing the other school’s fight songs, along with former BYU coach Lavell Edwards and former Utah Coach Ron McBride.

Kidney Foundation Social Worker runs 100 miler from Provo to Salt Lake and back!

    June 4th, 2014

HURRICANE — When Southern Utah resident Cory Reese heads out for a run, he isn’t training for a 5k, 10k or even a marathon. Reese, known to many as “Fast Cory,” runs 100-mile races and is about to embark on his 10th 100-miler. This time, however, he will be doing it solo and unsupported.

A husband, father of three and social worker, Reese has a unique reason for running: for the pure enjoyment of it. And although extremely ambitious, Reese didn’t start out by running 100-mile races.

“For a long time I thought a marathon was the peak of human endurance. Then I came across guys like Davy Crockett and Ed Ettinghousen who were doing crazy distance running (and making it look easy). It really opened my eyes to the fact that we really are capable of so much more than we know,” Reese said.

Completing his first 100-mile race in 2011, Reese was hooked, going on to complete eight more races, four of them in 2014 alone.

“I’ve treated the last year or so kind of like an experiment in pushing myself to see how much I am capable of,” Reese said. “I’ve tried to push the limits and really challenge myself.”

Realizing that he’s run a 100-miler in February, March, April and May, Reese thought he’d continue the streak one more month.

“I figured out that I’ve run nine 100-milers, and I wanted No. 10 to be something different, challenging and interesting,” he said. “Then I had an idea. How about running through the heart of Utah? Start at the state capitol building, run to Provo 50 miles away, and then turn around and run back.”

Enlarge image
“I figured out that I’ve run nine 100-milers, and I wanted No. 10 to be something different, challenging and interesting. Then I had an idea. How about running through the heart of Utah? Start at the state capitol building, run to Provo 50 miles away, and then turn around and run back!” -Cory Reese

Planning to start the morning of June 4 and carrying all his own gear and fuel, Reese will rely solely on himself and a steady stream of gas stations along the way to refill his water and buy food. “I’ve always been a fan of densely packed calories, with a particular fondness for Hostess products,” Reese admitted. “So just for fun, and just because they’ll be available, I’ll plan to eat a steady stream of Hostess along the way to get the calories needed to run that far.”

And with that, the ultra-runner deemed his upcoming run, the “Hostess 100.”

In a note to readers of his blog, Reese wrote, “I think it’s important in life to take risks. Challenge yourself. Do something that scares you. Go big or go home. Try something that will either be an epic adventure or a miserable failure. That’s what this run is to me. I’m excited to see how things turn out.”

To follow Cory’s progress and other adventures, go to

Student who hears our Kids and Kidneys Presentation to Donate Kidney

    May 30th, 2014

 Hi there!

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.


K. Young