Although his third “Coins for Kidneys” fundraiser ended when Naldrett Elementary School in Anchor Bay closed due to the pandemic, first grader Owen Campbell is not sitting still at home. Owen is an active six-year-old from Chesterfield Township, who just happens to have kidney disease. He was diagnosed when he was 2 years old.
In 2018, Naldrett’s student council decided to raise funds in Owen’s honor for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. Led by teacher Cindy Bowman, Owen’s class raised the most — over $3000. Then, Naldrett paraprofessional Jodie Novak became a live kidney donor in Owen’s honor. Owen doesn’t need a kidney yet but she wanted to pay it forward. She has since met the woman who received her kidney.
Owen’s journey is not over. In April, he endured an over six-hour surgery to repair bladder damage and increase his kidney function. Full-time Mom Krystalynn states that a week after surgery, he was popping wheelies on his bike! The family has remained safe at home during the pandemic. On June 1, Owen’s Dad Jeff returned to his work as an electrician.
“Owen loves girls and seems to choose a different girlfriend every week,” says Krystalynn, laughing. “He’s a typical boy — spunky, loves both country and rock music. Likes to play video games, get dirty, and bug his sisters, and he falls apart at the word ‘homework’.” He’s the middle child, and close to his sisters 8-year-old Emmy and 4-year-old Reese. “His sisters have been very supportive and are also very protective of him,” Krystalynn continues.
Owen loves people and loves entertaining them. He, his entire family and many friends have done the NKFM Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo since 2017, walking for the “Owen’s Avengers” team and raising funds. Team members all wear capes or other superhero garb.
“Owen loves that the whole team wears capes. He does well at the Kidney Walks at the Detroit Zoo, keeping up with all the cousins on the team. The walks make him feel supported,” says Krystalynn. During the 2019 Zoo Walk, Owen went on stage during the program and presented plaques adorned with children’s artwork to several VIPs in attendance. Afterward, he and Amelia Hale, who also has kidney disease, cut the ribbon to start the Walk.
“The most important thing,” concludes Krystalynn, “is that he will never have to walk this journey alone.”