Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki has agreed to become an Ambassador for The NephCure Foundation, a national kidney disease non-profit committed to funding research for the disease Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and Nephrotic Syndrome.
NephCure is important to Suzuki because his sister-in-law Patricia Vignery has been suffering from the kidney disease FSGS since she was eight years old. Now a student at Cal-State Fullerton, Patricia is attempting to manage the disease with various medications while handling a full-time class load, which can be difficult since the disease routinely drains patients of energy and experimental medications cause other harsh side effects.
“NephCure has been instrumental in how our family has been dealing with FSGS,” said Suzuki. “We learned of NephCure through an educational program they hosted in Los Angeles a few years ago. The information really helped our family learn more about the disease and what we could do. By joining NephCure as an Ambassador, I want to help the foundation gain awareness so that other families can benefit in the way ours did by getting involved.”
Suzuki plans to record a Public Service Announcement and along with his wife, Renee, host a Kidney Disease Awareness Day at an A’s game this season.
“We are very excited that Kurt has chosen to serve as an ambassador for NephCure,” said Executive Director Henry Brehm. “It speaks volumes of his character and dedication to the community that he takes on the responsibility to be such a positive role model. We are confident that Kurt’s name recognition in the Bay Area and throughout the baseball community will help patients suffering from FSGS or Nephrotic Syndrome find us as a resource.”
Suzuki joins a growing list of NephCure Ambassadors that includes future NBA Hall-of-Famer Alonzo Mourning, former MLB catcher Ed Hearn, former NCAA All-American women’s basketball player Dawn Evans and many others. Mourning required a transplant due to FSGS, while Hearn, a World Series Champion with the New York Mets, has had three transplants and still suffers from the disease. Evans was diagnosed with FSGS during her junior year at James Madison University in 2009, but continued to play and was among the nation’s leading scorers in her final two seasons despite a kidney function of just over 20 percent. See full list of NephCure Ambassadors… click here.
Nephrotic Syndrome and FSGS are conditions that affect the tiny filtering mechanisms in the kidney. The result is that beneficial protein is spilled from the kidney into the urine and lost. Over time this condition can result in renal failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. FSGS is the second-leading cause of kidney failure in children and over 8,000 people are diagnosed with these diseases each year.
The cause for Nephrotic Syndrome and FSGS is not known, and there is no cure. As a result, experimental medications, some that could cause cancer, are prescribed to try and put the disease in remission. Transplants aren’t always the answer either, as the new kidney can be attacked by the disease, sometimes within hours of the transplant.
The NephCure Foundation is the only organization solely committed to seeking a cause and cure for NS and FSGS. Comprised of patients, their families and friends, researchers, physicians and other healthcare professionals, NephCure aims to help science unlock the biological mechanisms that cause these serious conditions and ultimately find a way to cure and prevent them.
Suzuki became the everyday catcher for the A’s soon after his promotion to the big leagues during the 2007 season. He enters the 2012 campaign with a career a career .258 average, 56 homers and 284 RBI over 628 games. A 2001 graduate of H.P. Baldwin High School in Wailuku, Maui, HI, he attended Cal State Fullerton, where he won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top catcher following the 2004 season.
In January, Suzuki hosted the Inaugural Kurt Suzuki Baseball Clinic in Maui to raise awareness for the All PONO Sports Organization, promote healthy lifestyles and exercise for children in Hawaii, as well as teach baseball fundamentals. He also started the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation this year to support the scientific research of chronic illnesses-specifically kidney disease research-and encourage and promote healthy lifestyle choices.
In 2009 he was named the co-recipient of the Dave Stewart Community Service Award, which is given annually to an A’s player for outstanding work in the community. ~Nephcure.org~