Inspired by one of our incredible, ultrarunner Ambassadors, Jason Elmer, who donated his kidney in 2020 (read his amazing story here), Zensah has decided to partner with Kidney Donor Athletes to bring awareness and support to the cause of kidney donation. Read on to find out more about Kidney Donor Athletes, its found Tracey Hulick, their mission, and more!
Above: Kidney Donor Athletes standing atop Kilimanjaro on March 10, 2022, World Kidney Day!
Founded by ultrarunner and advocate, Tracey Hulick, Kidney Donor Athletes provides a space for education and support around kidney donation. "Kidney Donor Athletes was born out of my love of distance running, and my desire to solve problems." She gives an insight into her story in her own words:
"When I donated my kidney in 2017 I had a very hard time finding examples of other athletes who had donated and successfully came back to competing. I had wanted to donate since I was in middle school so I moved forward while trusting my gut instinct that everything would be fine – and it was! I donated to a stranger May 23rd, 2017. My journey leading up to donating felt lonely – many people thought I was making a mistake, that I’d have poor health after donating, and didn’t think I could get back to racing ultramarathons.
That loneliness pre-surgery is what inspired me to start Kidney Donor Athletes and to do what I could through leading by example. Now we are a global community of living donation advocates who span a wide range of athletics – triathlons, equestrian, tennis, ultramarathons, hockey, even roller skating! Any living kidney donor who moves their body on purpose for the sake of physical health is an athlete in our eyes.
After I recovered from surgery I slowly made my way back to distance running. I successfully competed in a 50 miler and a 100k trail race in Colorado, earning a spot on the podium in both! Runners World picked up the story as well as quite a few other media outlets. I am grateful for this journey and for being able to help form a community of some of the most incredible people I have ever met!"
Above: Kidney Donor Athletes founder Tracey Hulick during her donation and participating in ultra races!
Currently Kidney Donor Athletes as an organization provides a common space to share stories and answer potential donor’s questions!
Hulick has made it a point to get outside of her comfort zone by sharing her story and actively being a living example of how life can be just as active and adventurous post-donation.
Kidney Donor Athletes stood on top of the tallest freestanding mountain in the world (Kilimanjaro!) March 10, 2022, World Kidney Day.
During the climb hurdles were overcome, life long bonds established, and a message sent to all the world: “The purpose of this climb is to show people around the world that it’s possible to thrive on one kidney,” said Hulick.
“Something that’s important to all of us is to normalize kidney donations,” Patty Graham, said. “We’re not heroes, we’re normal people. We lead normal lives.”
Join us in supporting these incredible athletes and Kidney Donor Athletes to continue doing the work in removing the stigma that kidney donors cannot live as fully and actively as others. These donors are an example of the inspiration spirit of support, community, and bravery.