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For Immediate Release
Contact: Kerry Minster
LOCAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION FOUNDER RECOGNIZED BY GOOD MORNING AMERICA
Greensboro, Ga. (March 20, 2017) - A team from Good Morning America and ABC News surprised Kristi Callaway at Lake Oconee Academy (LOA) in Greensboro, Georgia, on February 3, to recognize her for her hard work matching kidney donors and recipients.
Good Morning America chose to honor Kristi Callaway as part of its "We are GMA: 50 Hearts in 50 States" campaign. Her extraordinary efforts have saved over 20 lives since Kristi launched her kidney donor and recipients network. Her dedication to this cause stems from a situation that hits close to home.
Kristi's husband Raleigh suffered from Chronic Kidney Disease, and in 2014 his kidney function had declined to the point that he was in dire need of a kidney transplant. After a Facebook post with a photo of Raleigh, Kristi and their two daughters holding a sign that read "Our Daddy Needs a Kidney" went viral, Raleigh found a kidney donor match in just 10 weeks.
Kristi felt compelled to pay it forward and help those searching for a kidney donor. Kristi and her husband then started a kidney foundation designed to raise awareness about Chronic Kidney Disease and connect kidney donors to people in need.
When Good Morning America reached out to Kristi's family about wanting to do the segment in Greensboro, the entire community was asked to keep quiet. Kristi was invited to come to Lake Oconee Academy to read to her daughter's first grade class, but little did she know, she was in for a huge surprise.
The Good Morning America team invited several kidney donor/recipient families to Lake Oconee Academy to surprise Kristi. Upon Kristi's arrival she was directed to view a video of Raleigh's journey to receiving his kidney. As she was viewing the video, the donor and recipient families emerged from behind a group of Lake Oconee Academy students and greeted her with hugs and tears. Over 150 students then formed a super-size heart on the baseball field to symbolize GMA's "50 Hearts" campaign.
Kristi's husband and mother had been in contact with Good Morning America for weeks to pull off this surprise to recognize Kristi's hard work and kindness. In addition to this surprise, Retail Me Not made a donation of $10,000 in Kristi's name to the National Kidney Foundation.
"This entire experience has been incredible and heart-warming," said Kristi. "Words do not seem to express the amount of love and appreciation I feel for all who were involved in making this happen. The opportunity to be able to meet the people I have worked so closely with but only by phone and computer is one I will treasure always. Kidney disease and the desperate need for living donors does not receive nearly the coverage it should, and I am forever grateful to have been a part of representing the need on the national stage. Thank you to my family, friends, community, ABC, GMA, and LOA for allowing this once in a lifetime experience to come to fruition. It is my hope and prayer that media coverage of one of the most special moments of my life will inspire someone to become a living donor and give hope to those waiting for the call that their kidney gift has arrived."
On March 17, Kristi and her family travelled to New York City to be a part of the GMA live show. While there, Kristi and Raleigh met with representatives at the corporate headquarters of the National Kidney Foundation to learn how they can collaborate on efforts to increase transplant education awareness.
Rob Marciano and Pat Daniel present Kristi and Raleigh with a $10,000 donation to the National Kidney Foundation in Kristi's name on behalf of Retail Me Not. Pat is the wife of Randy Daniel, who has been featured on Kristi's Facebook page and is still in search of his donor. Pat contacted GMA to share Kristi's story and nominate her to be featured by GMA.