Gary Bodenheimer, of Elwood, NE, has received the National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) Richard K. Salick Advocacy Award at the 2016 Kidney Patient Summit in Washington, DC.
The award is named after Rich Salick, a former pro surfer who underwent three kidney transplants and was a tireless advocate for kidney patients. It is the highest honor NKF bestows on advocacy volunteers.
“Gary exemplifies that same spirit of service,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation. “He’s constantly in his local community, helping others and educating them about kidney disease and I am happy he’s part of NKF’s advocacy team.”
Bodenheimer was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) in 2013. Since his diagnosis he has made it his mission to raise awareness of CKD, especially among those at risk.
“When I talk to people, I say get tested, don’t wait. Chronic kidney disease has no symptoms, it’s a silent killer,” Bodenheimer said. “Get to the doctor, it won’t hurt, they can tell you if your kidneys are functioning properly.”
Bodenheimer is an active Kidney Advocacy Committee patient liaison with the National Kidney Foundation, and on any given day can be found staffing information tables at community fairs in his home state of Nebraska, speaking with the media to help inform the public about kidney disease risk factors, communicating with pharmaceutical companies about various health issues, and advocating in Washington, DC for better care for kidney patients.
“I’m not trying to cure the world,” he said. “I have a good day if I get one person to go to the doctor and get tested, that’s my good day.”