The Blog

Curling for a Cause and a Cure for Lupus Nephritis

Regan Birr headshot ii (1)

I had the recent honor of interviewing Regan Birr, a woman who, despite a lupus nephritis diagnosis after college, harnessed a mountain of motivation to protect her kidney health and seek a cure through curling. Curling? Yes, you read that right. As a born and bred Canadian, Regan explains, curling is in her blood. It…

The Power of Someone to Save a Life

Save a Life

Michele Hagel didn’t always know that she had the power to save a life. But a Facebook post and a prayer changed that. Scrolling through her feed, she learned her fellow Medtronic employee, Mark Bubalo, had kidney failure. Grueling dialysis treatments kept him alive. He needed a kidney transplant. If a living donor stepped forward…

The Gift of Living Kidney Donation: Paying it Forward


I’m honored to work with Andrea Deanovic Schmidt on the National Kidney Foundation Board, Serving Minnesota. Andrea is a fellow kidney transplant recipient, thanks to her heroic brother, Pete Deanovic. He didn’t hesitate to save his sister with his living kidney donation. Pete’s benevolence restored Andrea’s health, and she feels grateful every day. But there’s…

A Lucky Man

Photo by KS KYUNG on Unsplash

I love interviewing extraordinary people. And Jeff Piotraschke definitely fits the bill. As part of my work with the National Kidney Foundation, I learned how Jeff’s kind heart led him to donate his kidney to his sister, Kathy. Selfless and family-focused, Jeff’s intention to improve Kathy’s health became the catalyst for his own self-improvement. And…

For Goodness’ Sakes

Celebrating 50th on the 50 and promoting organ donor awareness

There are many ways to describe fifty-year-old Doobie Kurus. Pre-school teacher. Husband and father of three girls. Athlete and former Gopher football player. A chef who has raised over $250,000 for local charities. And a selfless kidney donor. It’s the last of this list, kidney donor, that has heightened his appreciation for the former. Humble…

A Vacation to Serena & Lily Land

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Do you dream of a vacation where you leave the to-do list behind? Me too. But it’s not always possible. So when I need a mini-escape, I just flip open a Serena & Lily catalog. Breezy California-style, here I come. It’s more than crisp photos of furniture, bedding, and accessories—it’s a quick trip to Fantasy…

Marking Time and Moving Forward

marking time

What an honor and joy to interview Bernadeia Johnson, the former superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools. Her leadership and resolve inspire me in so many ways, as she works relentlessly for change. You can read the piece I wrote about her here! Happy Tuesday, every one!

The Joy of “Normal”

Joy of Normal

When I interviewed Mary Roethler about her remarkable claim to fame—a kidney transplant recipient celebrating 42 healthy years compliments of her sister, Ruth—her zest for life burst through our phone connection. All the normalcy she’d enjoyed since the age of fifteen (when she received her sister’s life-saving gift), seemed a miracle. Freedom from a dialysis…

A Family Chain that Keeps on Giving

Family Chain

I first met Jeremiah Bartel through the National Kidney Foundation. After writing about him for an NKF Newsletter, my fondness for his entire family continued. So I pitched their remarkable solidarity to Gail Rosenblum at the Star Tribune. Well, she loves their story too (no surprise) and hired me to write it up for the…

Progress Starts with a Story

Progress Starts with a Story

In the next twelve months, I’ll be tackling publisher-assigned tasks for my forthcoming memoir. Still a long way off, but each step adds another tiny drop into a big bucket. My advocacy work requires a different type of patience—you put in lots of effort without ever holding pages in your hand. Here’s a confession; with…

All in the Family


What an honor to write stories about remarkable people for The National Kidney Foundation Newsletter. I’ve just finished a feature on a cheerful, generous man named Jeremiah Bartel. His story (his whole family’s story) is inspiring. Talk about solidarity. Talk about good karma in action. And who could have guessed that after our second interview……

Spinning Wheels

Spinning Wheels

“Did you bring the rope?” I ask Jane as I grab my skateboard. My friend loops the twine behind her bike seat and tosses it to me. She jumps on her bike while I hop on my board and grab the rope. Skateboard-surfing behind Jane is my favorite activity. I roll free as my ponytail…