When the Fresenius Medical Care Foundation launched this spring, clinical leaders from the organization assembled 4,000 Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle (HEAL) kits, which included items such as basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, footballs and air pumps. Hundreds of Chicago Public School students received kits while participating in the event, with the remaining kits donated to children of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.
An important second phase of that launch event happened in July at Camp Duncan, a YMCA medical summer camp program for children with diabetes and kidney disease. Fresenius Kidney Care clinical leaders from the Chicago area visited the camp and donated HEAL kits to the 100 campers, all of whom are children with Type 1 diabetes.
“It was a fantastic visit,” said Teri Gurchiek, Vice President of Operations, Midwest Group, Fresenius Kidney Care. “The kids were thrilled to see us and receive the kits – they actually cheered for us.”
One of the Foundation’s key goals is to promote healthy habits early in life to help support a healthier generation of adults.
“There was a group of kids playing basketball and they had only two balls,” Gurchiek said. “We showed up and shared a bunch of new basketballs and all of sudden the group of kids playing just grew. The endocrinologists on staff loved seeing the kids being so active.”
In addition to the kits, the Foundation donated $50,000 to the Y and Camp Duncan, with much of that money supporting camp scholarships.
“This gift directly supports these important specialty camps that challenge youth and teens with diabetes and kidney disease to reach their full potential,” said Kim Kiser, Executive Director of Camp Duncan. “It also helps expand our healthy living programming, from emphasizing active lifestyles to nutrition.”
Kiser explains that Camp Duncan fosters resiliency which helps campers handle life’s inevitable changes and losses. She says camp has a gentle and fun way of pushing children out of their comfort zones.
“Fresenius Kidney Care has made a huge impact on so many children’s lives this summer,” said Kiser.
“Some of the kids would not have been able to attend the camp without our donation,” Gurchiek said. “They were so appreciative.”
After spending most of the day on site, the Fresenius team received a crew oar engraved with a note of appreciation, which is now mounted on a wall at the camp.
“It was really moving and a great reminder of the impact we can have on so many different people,” Gurchiek said. “Just before we left, a 10-year-old boy came up to me and thanked us for taking care of his grandfather, a former patient of ours. He told us that because of us, his grandfather was able to walk his mother down the aisle at her wedding. I couldn’t help but cry.”
A video highlighting the Fresenius Medical Care Foundation launch event in Chicago can be watched below.