Celebrity Tweets And Billboards Keep Kidney Search Alive
The Skinner Family, in need of a living donor, is planning a fundraiser for Sept. 23 at Onion Town Grill.
Mike Skinner wasn’t kidding about his mission to find a kidney for his wife Anne Casale-Skinner, and now he’s got help from some powerful friends. From celebrities to radio personalities to sports figures, people are stepping up to help Skinner spread the word, in hopes of finding a suitable living donor for Anne.
Casale-Skinner suffers from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a condition she inherited from her father who passed away in 1974 after complications from his kidney transplant. Casale-Skinner’s two brothers also inherited the disease, as well as her two daughters.
When Skinner discovered he was medically disqualified from donating his own kidney, he took action. He turned to Facebook after hearing about a family who found a kidney donor through social media. His initiative began to take on a life of its own with two Facebook groups, a twitter page and now a website, Calling All Kidneys.
Karson and Kennedy from Boston radio station Mix 104.1 mentioned Skinner’s website Calling All Kidneys on their show, and Boston Red Sox player Dustin Pedroia helped spread the word by sharing the Danvers Patch article about the Skinners on Facebook. Then, Skinner got serious about the power of social media, and began tweeting for even more help.
“I created a Twitter account and began following people and tweeting about #callingallkidneys. Through a high school friend, Kelly (Macdonald) Colanto, I was able to get Donnie Wahlberg to re-tweet one if my pleas. In addition, I have re-tweets by Jimmy Marsh,( musician/artist), Keke Palmer, Karen Swenson (former Danvers resident & NECN anchor), as well as people from all over the country. Kelly Colanto and Glen Charette, a classmate of Anne's, have taken the lead on twitter in sending out their tweets.”
Skinner’s bandwagon is clearly picking up local steam, as shown on the streets of Danvers where local businesses, the Daily Harvest Cafe and Onion Town Grill, used their billboards to display Skinner’s website Calling All Kidney’s.
“The signs are huge,” he said. “Not only does it promote my cause, but may also bring additional business to them. It has been very helpful in spreading the word and I would love to see every business in town support this, either by sharing the website or committing to donate items to our fundraisers.”
Brittany Raesley, owner of the Daily Harvest Cafe, said she often jokes with Skinner, and "when we put up Calling All Kidneys, we called him to let him know we changed it, but wouldn’t tell him what it said. He thought it would be another joke, and when he drove by, he stopped in to give me a big hug. He was really happy about it."
Raesley is asking others to step up, too. "We are asking friends who have businesses to commit to putting up the website for one month, or have fliers in the restaurant and rubber awareness bracelets to give out; they can get those from Mike Skinner if they would like.”
By asking Onion Town Grill to post the website up on their billboard, Kelly Colantro has offered her much-needed assistance to the Skinners. The former classmate of Mike Skinner’s knows what it is like to feel helpless when a loved one is affected, or in her case taken, by circumstances beyond their control.
Calantro is the sister of Mike McDonald, who passed away suddenly in 2008 from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the age of 45. To honor her brother, Calantro and her family created the Michael J. MacDonald Memorial Scholarship benefiting a worthy senior student athlete at Danvers High School, where Michael had been the hockey team manager back in 1981. The annual Mike’s Ride to Remember is an event that brought more than one hundred thirty motorcycle riders last year to help raise funds to support the scholarship.
"I've known Mike (Skinner) for so long, if there's something we can do to help, I want to do it," Colantro said. "We have also put a team together, Calling all kidneys 4 Anne Casale-Skinner, for a Walk for PKD. People can go onto our teams fundraising site PKD foundation, and make a donation to our team to support the fight against polycystic kidney disease. I'm not going to save the world, but every day I wake up and try."
Skinner encourages inquiring minds, to go directly to: www.callingallkidneys.com . “Since our article (“Calling All Kidney’s” on Danvers Patch), I have gone from 200 likes to over 500 likes, on the “Calling All Kidneys,” page on Facebook. "
A fundraiser will be held to raise funds for expenses any living donor might face when giving their gift, and to prepare for a time when Anne may have to leave her job as a realtor, Sept. 23rd with the band Easily Distracted playing from 8pm-12am. Donations and raffle items would be greatly appreciated.
Throughout this experience, Skinner has reached out to numerous donors and recipients to learn from their stories, and gain insight into how they progressed through the different phases: from seeking a suitable donor, up through the transplant, and post transplant.
“They’ve inspired me to continue on this journey," he says. "No matter how sick people get of hearing about Calling All Kidneys, I wont stop until I find Anne a kidney. Then I will work on finding one for the rest of the world!”