The annual Christmas luncheon that is prepared by volunteers from the Kamloops Chapter of the B.C. and Yukon Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada always is a lot of fun. That is, of course, because of the people you meet there.
Take Sunday at the Heritage House, for example.
I was presented with the opportunity to chat with Barb Haight-Smith and her husband, Ed Smith. Well, to be honest, Barb did most of the talking, and what a story she told. Her father, Jimmy Haight, played for one of the most-famous Canadian hockey teams of all time — the 1938-39 Trail Smoke Eaters.
Born in Humboldt, Sask., Jimmy came out of the Saskatoon junior ranks to join the Nelson Maple Leafs. Rather than turn pro, he then moved over to Trail after Cominco put him to work, which also allowed him to play for the 1937-38 Smoke Eaters, who won the Savage Cup as B.C. champions, the Paton Cup as Western Canadian kings, and the Allan Cup as Canadian champs.
In 1938-39, the Smoke Eaters took the hockey world by storm as the won the World championship. They arrived in Europe in early December and spent a couple of months touring. Before they were done over there, they played 55 games, winning 53 times, losing once and recording one tie.
The 10-day World championship was played in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland. The Smokies opened by beating the Netherlands, 8-0, and Poland, 4-0. In the second round, they took out Britain, 4-0, and Germany, 9-0. Then they dumped Switzerland, 7-0, before more than 16,000 fans. Trail wrapped up the title with a 4-1 victory over Czechoslovakia and a 4-0 blanking of the United States.
In his final years, Barb and Ed cared for her father in Kamloops, where he died on April 15, 2009. Jimmy Haight, a World champion, was 95.
What follows are more photos from the luncheon at the Heritage House, all of them from the camera of Murray Mitchell of Murray Mitchell Photography.
Christmas arrived at the Heritage House in Kamloops on Sunday afternoon as the Kamloops Chapter of the B.C. and Yukon Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada held its annual luncheon.
Every year, volunteers with the chapter prepare and serve a pre-Christmas turkey lunch to dialysis patients and transplant recipients along with their guests.
This year’s luncheon was played host to by Larry Read, the sports information officer at Thompson Rivers University. He also is the emcee for Kamloops’ annual Kidney Walk, another event that is organized by the local chapter. The 2020 Kidney Walk is scheduled for Sept. 20 at McDonald Park, so you can put that on your calendar.
And, on Sunday, the inimitable Jesse Jones, who teaches at Lee’s Music in Kamloops, joined us, as he always does, to provide the tunes of the season.
Murray Mitchell, the Kamloops’ chapter’s official photographer, also was there. A long-time photographer with the late Kamloops Daily News, he took the photos that appear here. He now operates Murray Mitchell Photography — murraymitchell.ca — right here in Kamloops.
Check back shortly for more from Murray Mitchell Photography from the annual Kidney Christmas Luncheon.
To a person experiencing kidney failure, there are a number of advantages to being fortunate enough to get a transplant from a live donor.
From the Kidney Foundation of Canada website:
“The organ donation and transplant surgeries can be scheduled when both the donor and recipient are in the best possible health. This will help to ensure the quality of the donated kidney is at its highest. The amount of time between removing the kidney from the donor and transplanting it into the recipient is shorter than for a deceased donation. This may help the transplanted kidney to function better and/or last longer.
“The length of time the recipient waits for an organ to become available is shorter when the organ comes from a living donor. Also, other recipients on the transplant waiting list who do not have a living donor themselves move up the transplant waiting list once the recipient of the living donor kidney is removed from the list. In that way, other people waiting for a kidney transplant also benefit from a living donation.”
There also are some other advantages, as pointed out on the Foundation’s website:
“A transplanted kidney from a living donor often lasts longer. This is partly due to more time being available to do the necessary tests to get a better tissue match between donor and recipient. A better tissue match means higher compatibility and less risk of organ rejection.
“The kidney from a living donor is usually healthier than an organ from a deceased donor and may last longer: 15 to 20 years on average, compared to 10 to 15 years for a deceased kidney donation. This is largely because extensive testing is done on the donor to ensure the donor has excellent kidney function.
“A kidney from a living donor usually works right away in the recipient. A kidney from a deceased donor may take days or weeks before it starts to work normally. In the meantime, the recipient may need dialysis treatments.”
And let’s not forget about this: For the donor, it is a very positive psychological experience knowing that he or she has helped someone in need.”
All of which brings us to the story of John Glenn Miller of Vancouver and Cheryl Vosburgh, who lives in Kamloops.
“Two years ago,” writes Cheryl Chan of Postmedia, “John Glenn Miller pushed through his embarrassment and discomfort to make a plea online for a new kidney. Today, he’s a new man — thanks to a priceless gift from a stranger.”
Vosburgh was that stranger.
A story about Miller, who has 12-year-old twin sons, appeared in a Vancouver newspaper in April 2017. He needed a kidney. As he waited and hoped that a match would somehow be found, and while he was on dialysis, Vosburgh made the decision to donate a kidney.
In researching the issue of kidney donation, she came across that 2017 story about Miller. Things worked out and the surgery was performed at Vancouver General Hospital on Aug. 21.
Chan’s story can be found in the tweet that is below.
Vosburgh, 59, lives in Kamloops and attended her first Kamloops Kidney Support Group gathering exactly three weeks after having had surgery. We were an enthralled group as we listened to her tell her story.
She also said that she wants to continue to advocate for organ donation and transplantation. If you are thinking about being a live kidney donor and have any questions, email me at email@example.com and I will get you in touch with Vosburgh.
A couple of former sports writers were walking on Rivers Trail, taking part in Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk on Sunday, when they were joined by Hugh McLennan.
Just minutes earlier, McLennan had been saluted by organizers, participants and volunteers as one of two honourees for this edition of the Kidney Walk. He had undergone a kidney transplant on Nov. 22, 2019, at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. His long-time friend, Louis (Big Rig) McIvor, the other honouree on Sunday, had given McLennan one of his kidneys.
McLennan, the host of the Spirit of the West radio show, is well-known in the ranching community in B.C. — he and wife Billie run cattle near Pinantan Lake, northeast of Kamloops. He also is easily recognizable, what with the 10-gallon hat, walrus moustache and cowboy boots.
By now, though, the cowboy boots were gone, replaced by a pair of sneakers.
It had been apparent early on that McLennan was thrilled to have been selected as an honouree. While doing hemo-dialysis, he had always been more than willing to help out by taking a turn at the microphone and also supplying musical entertainment at past Kidney Walks. He and McIvor also have been quick to promote organ donation and transplantation when given the opportunity.
As thrilled as McLennan was with that honour, though, he wore an even bigger smile as he told the story of a phone call he and Billie had received the previous day.
Their grandson, Reed, who will turn 16 on Nov. 20, is playing midget hockey in Winfield, B.C., which is located between Vernon and Kelowna on Highway 97.
Hugh’s voice was bursting with pride as he talked about the phone call.
A goaltender, Reed’s junior B rights belong to the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. It seems that the Eagles were scheduled to play the host Spokane Braves on Friday and found themselves short a goaltender, thanks to an issue involving a passport.
So . . . a call went out to Reed, who joined the Eagles in time to ride the bus to Spokane. He was looking forward to what he was looking at as a learning experience and expecting to take in the game from the cozy confines of the bench.
Except that the Eagles found themselves trailing, 3-0, just 3:49 into the game. Shortly after, the call came from head coach Ty Gunn: “McLennan . . . let’s go!”
With Reed in goal, the Braves added two more goals and took a 5-0 lead into the third period. It was 6-1 just 1:02 into the final period.
In the end, I’m sure the Eagles will tell you that they simply ran out of time. They lost the game, 6-5, scoring their fifth goal late in the third period.
Reed more than did his job, though, turning aside 39 of 41 shots in 54 minutes 20 seconds, in his junior B debut.
While Hugh was relating the story of a grandfather and his grandson, McIvor and fiancée Tammy Mathieu also were on Rivers Trail. They weren’t alone as they had two grandchildren in tow — or was it the other way around?
Regardless, with grandchildren in the conversation and on Rivers Trail, I couldn’t help but think about what it must mean to Hugh to be able to be part of his grandson’s life. After all, had Louis not given Hugh a kidney almost two years ago, well, who knows?
My wife, Dorothy, received a kidney six years ago Monday — Sept. 23, 2013. Our only grandchild, Kara, turned three in July. Dorothy had done peritoneal dialysis for almost four years before having her transplant. Again, without that kidney, who knows?
When we got home after Sunday’s Kidney Walk, we spent some time on a video chat with Kara.
Grateful doesn’t begin to explain what that kidney means to our family. You can bet it’s the same with the McLennans and anyone else who has needed a kidney and been fortunate enough to get one.
If you are thinking about being a donor, feel free to call the donor nurse co-ordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital (604-806-9027 or 1-877-922-9822), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE NEWS! 📰📣 Kidney transplant patient is still alive 50 years after sister saved his life. A pensioner who was told he wouldn’t make it past his 21st birthday is still alive 50 years after his kidney transplant. https://t.co/jLpynvm15t
BC Renal is looking for kidney patients and family members to participate in a working group. Join and share your perspective on what matters to you in terms of patient and family engagement. Go to https://t.co/Jdhaej4wHy for more info and to RSVP by September 25. https://t.co/bMzm2NqXxi
We awoke Sunday to cool weather (12 C) and showers.
The cool wasn’t a problem because warm weather and people with kidney disease aren’t a good match.
But the drizzle . . .
Well, if you have been, or are being, impacted by kidney disease, what’s a little rain? Right?
And so it was that more than 100 people were at McDonald Park on Kamloops’ North Shore on Sunday for the city’s 10th annual Kidney Walk.
Not all of them took part in the walk, which always follows Rivers Trail for more than one kilometre to McArthur Island, but they all were there to show support to people in our community who are dealing with kidney disease or to remember friends and loved ones.
We couldn’t have done it without Larry Read, the sports information guru for the WolfPack at Thompson Rivers U. He is our emcee, and he brought along six athletes from the WolfPack swim team and, oh boy, what a big help they were. This wasn’t the first time Larry brought volunteers from TRU, and it is a tremendously positive feeling to see these young people so eager to help at an event like this one.
With Larry at the controls, we saluted Hugh McLennan and Louis (Big Rig) McIvor as the honourees for the 2019 Walk. Hugh, a rancher, is the host of the Spirit of the West podcast and a familiar figure in the cowboy world in Alberta and B.C. When he needed a kidney almost two years ago, he got
one from Big Rig, a long-time friend who is a former long-haul driver and radio personality.
They were introduced by Edna Humphreys, the executive director of the Kamloops chapter of the B.C. and Yukon Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Hey, if there’s a renal-related event in Kamloops, you can bet that Edna is the push behind it.
We went into this walk with a goal of raising $20,000. By the time the counting is done, we will be somewhere around $24,000, which is unbelievable. In all of our pre-walk chatter, I don’t once remember anything close to that figure being mentioned.
In 2018, we raised $21,764, after bringing in $16,736 in 2017.
There was some excitement late in the program, too.
The Brock Central Lions Club was there, again, to provide us with a pancake breakfast, along with sausages and coffee, all by donation.
So with most of the folks already eating and a few in line to fill their plates, a cry went up: “Stop her! Stop her! She took the money box.!!”
It seems that a person had appeared on the scene, got in line for breakfast, then grabbed the cash box and took off on the run.
However, her plan hadn’t accounted for Allan Dodds, who when he isn’t playing Superman works at Lordco in Kamloops. His connection with us? His wife, Julie, has kidney disease and is in need of a transplant.
Anyway . . . Allan took off after the thief, caught up with her and brought back the money.
As Julie wrote on her Facebook page: “My husband not only helped set up . . . and with the delivery of chairs and tables, he helped present a large cheque, and also chased down a would-be thief.”
In the end, the Lions Club raised $326.90, all of which, thanks to Allan, was there to be donated to the Kidney Walk.
If we were to give out an MVP award this year, it would go to Allan. As a member of the Southern Central B.C. branch of the CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum), he presented the Kidney Walk with a cheque for $5,000 in late August.
Through Lordco, he was able to provide us with a truck with which he picked up tables and chairs from the good folks at TRU. He also supplied, again through Lordco, a large canopy that really came in handy considering the weather.
And, of course, he topped it all off by jumping into a phone booth — OK, there aren’t any of those these days; he just went behind the Lordco truck — where he donned the Superman suit and went on to rescue the money.
Dorothy says: Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!
With help from so many of you, she was able to raise $3,230 for Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk, which was held on Sunday morning.
With such great support from so many terrific people, she was the leading fund-raiser for a sixth straight year, and she now has raised more than $16,000 in total.