In a world with constant warnings about bizarre health risks such as the Zika virus and Ebola, some of the most common and dangerous ailments can be overlooked. One such ailment is kidney disease, the ninth-leading cause of death in the United States.
More people die from kidney disease than from breast cancer, prostate cancer or leukemia. Nearly 50 percent of Americans will develop kidney disease in their life, a statistic that is increasing as diabetes and high blood pressure become more prevalent health issues as well.
The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland (NKF-MD) has been actively advocating kidney health since 1955, officially joining the National Kidney Foundation in 1964. According to its mission statement, the NKF-MD “is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.”
On June 25, the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland will be putting on its seventh annual Rappel for Kidney Health event at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unique to Baltimore, the event is an opportunity for members of the community to raise awareness and money for kidney health and get screened. Since its inception, the Rappel for Kidney Health event has raised more than $676,000.
Rappel for Kidney Health will be providing entertainment throughout the day, including face-painting, a DJ, carnival games and various raffles. Additionally, the event will offer free screenings to promote kidney health, which entail blood pressure, sugar and creatinine readings. The biggest draw and fundraiser of the event is rappelling.
Each year, participants form teams to raise money for kidney health. Each team tries to attain a goal of $1,000, which, when achieved, earns the team’s participants the right to rappel from the top of a building. This year, participants will be making their way from the 15-story roof of the Hyatt Regency to the deck of the pool below, where friends, family and guests will cheer on those making the descent.
Every year, members of Baltimore’s Jewish community participate in the event. One such denizen is Jordan Levine, who has been actively working to raise awareness for kidney health since having his personal life affected.
“I hadn’t even given kidneys a second thought until my son was born with only one,” said Levine, a board member of NKF-MD.
He was further influenced when his brother was in a serious car accident and experienced renal failure. Since then, both of Jordan’s relatives have stabilized and are in good health. These days, it is their turn to watch Jordan put himself in “danger.” However, Levine notes that the members of Over the Edge, the rappel company that helps put on this special event, “do a tremendous job of making you feel comfortable.” This is the second year that he will be rappelling. Between this year and last year, Levine’s team alone has raised nearly $4,000.
Another Baltimore resident who will be participating is former District 11 delegate Jon Cardin, who found out about Rappel for Kidney Health through a family friend, Amy Greten. The catalyst for Greten’s involvement with Rappel comes from a family history of polycystic kidney disease, which necessitated her having a liver/kidney transplant. A thrill-seeker himself, Cardin is attending Rappel for Kidney Health both to support Greten and to rappel himself if he raises enough funds. He recounts that by rappelling to support friends and family affected by kidney disease “not only did [Amy] raise a lot of money, but she overcame a fear of heights as well.”
Cardin supports a variety of nonprofits, having participated in the Special Olympics’ Polar Bear Plunge 16 times in addition to fundraising and attending events for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.
To raise further money for kidney disease, this year’s Rappel for Kidney Health event will feature the second annual Toss Your Boss Challenge, in which employees from local businesses raise money to send their bosses over the edge.
NKF-MD officer Jenny Trostel assures that this year’s event is guaranteed to be “the coolest thing around.”
Mid-Atlantic Media editorial director Joshua Runyan rappels on Friday, June 24 as part of Toss Your Boss.