Four kidney transplants later, Glendale woman gets retail with fundraising

Kidney disease is a chronic condition with no cure, but members of the Glendale-based Renal Support Network don’t let that get them down as they “bead” together for a new fundraiser that’s the brainchild of a local woman who’s had four kidney transplants.

The organization is giving away beaded bracelets for donations in a jewelry collection called EmbraceHope, said Glendale resident Lori Hartwell, who founded the network in 1993 and organized the fundraiser.

Each bracelet is named for and dedicated to one of 12 friends who helped Hartwell during her most recent transplant.

“When you have an illness, it takes a lot of support from friends and family to get through it,” Hartwell said.

Her journey through her fourth kidney transplant was difficult at times and filled with uncertainty, but she always persevered, Hartwell said.

She had her first kidney transplant when was 13, but her body wouldn’t accept it. She had another transplant when she was 17, but again it didn’t work.

She was on dialysis for a dozen years starting when she was 12. Finally, when she received her third kidney in 1990, it lasted for 20 years.

For the past several months, the group held beading parties where members would sit around a table and craft the bracelets.

They made about 1,000 of them before the fundraiser’s Nov. 1 kick-off, Hartwell said, adding that about 60% of the inventory has been given away in exchange for donations.

Proceeds will go to the Renal Support Network and its projects, which include an annual Renal Teen Prom, to be held Jan. 20 at Notre Dame High School.

Teenagers with kidney disease come from throughout Southern California for the prom and actor Jack Black has performed at the event the past few years, Hartwell said.

As part of the prom project, the organization holds a dress drive for teenage girls, who get a gown to wear to the prom and then keep. The drive will be held the first weekend of January at the Glendale Galleria, which donates the space.

“We make them feel beautiful. They already look beautiful.” Hartwell said.

Each bracelet is available for a $25 donation.

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