Raising dialysis awareness
Regatta crew raising awareness for dialysis patients
Kay’s Kidney Kats is a group of firsttime rowers competing in the Harbour Grace Regatta. What makes them unique is they all have a connection to the dialysis unit at Carbonear General Hospital, including a 26-year dialysis patient. Anne Penney had always wanted to row, and decided to do so this year.
Anne Penney had always wanted to row in the Harbour Grace Regatta.
However, her weekly dialysis treatments had prevented her from doing so.
“It was always interesting to me, but I’ve never rowed before,” Penney told the Compass.
The 51-year-old Salmon Cove native has been on dialysis for the past 26 years, and is currently taking it four times a week.
However, at the end of last summer Penney decided she wanted to give rowing a go.
Talking amongst the nurses she deals with every week in the dialysis unit at Carbonear General Hospital, the group of six nurses and Penney decided to form a crew.
Now that the group had decided to become a rowing crew, the next step was to find an experienced coxswain to show them the ropes.
That’s where Sonia Williams comes in.
She is a paramedic with Moore’s Ambulance Service and an experienced coxswain.
Williams frequently visits the dialysis unit at the hospital and when she heard of the idea of forming a crew she was all for it. “It’s great,” she said. With a coxswain in tow, the group set about coming up with a name for their group.
They came up with Kay’s Kidney Kats, incorporating one of their sponsors, Kay’s Restaurant, and that all members of the crew have a connection to the dialysis unit. Some are nurses, while others have family members who have been touched by the treatment.
Along with Penney, the rest of the crew includes Jill Gosse, Beverley Baird, Dana Cambden, Jackie Sharpe, Deanne Squire, Donna Andrews and Elizabeth Baker.
“Anne brought this up last year, and we said, ‘just tell us the time and the place and we’ll be there,’” said Gosse.
The team’s other sponsor is Harbour Grace Cold Storage Inc. First time rowers Every member of the crew is a first-time rower.
That meant there was a steep learning curve ahead of the regatta, which runs July 27 at Lady Lake in Harbour Grace.
Despite that, each rower attacked the process with vigor.
“It was difficult at the beginning,” said Penney. “We had to get used to it.”
But, with each practice, the crew starting to come together and everyone was starting to pick up new aspects of rowing.
Whether it was learning the different parts of the boat or how to sit in it correctly, the Kidney Kats are starting to resemble a rowing team.
“I ’m impressed with how far they’ve come,” said Williams. “We’re proud,” added Penney. Gosse said one thing she really enjoyed about the new experience was the “togetherness” that came with sharing a rowing shell with six other people.
“It was nice,” she said. “We’re having fun.”
The main reason for forming the crew was to have a bit of fun and do something neither of them had every done before.
However, there is an underlying theme to the crew.
There is a stigma attached to dialysis that you have to stop living once you have started.
But, Penney and the Kidney Kats are hoping to help shed that notion.
“I don’t see it as a handicap,” said Penney. “It’s not supposed to tie you down.”
With the regatta set to go this weekend, Gosse said everyone is excited to get going.
“We’re pumped, we really are,” she said. “We’ve really enjoyed it.”
“They’re starting to look like a rowing crew,” added Williams.
Kay’s Kidney Kats are a group of first year rowers who all have a connection with the dialysis unit at Carbonear General Hospital. Members of the team are (l-r) — sponsor Kathy Tetford, Jill Gosse, Beverley Baird, Dana Combden, Jackie Sharpe, Donna Andrews, Anne Penney and coxswain Sonia Williams. Missing from photo are Deanne Squires and Elizabeth Baker.