Former Kidney Donor Hikes to Honor Young Cancer Superheroes

“I didn’t know much about how important kidneys were until my mother-in-law’s kidneys failed.”

Before Kris Oien began her Ultimate Hike journey, she first had her own personal journey with kidney donation. It began when she found out that her mother-in-law, who meant the world to her, needed a new kidney.

Kris would have done anything to help her mother-in-law get a kidney. She was even tested herself to see if she was a match, but unfortunately, she wasn’t. Knowing this, she then signed up for a “paired exchange” program, which meant that she would give her kidney to a stranger and her mother-in-law would receive one from a stranger.

That donation never happened, and soon after her mother-in-law had open heart surgery, her health weakened. That’s when Kris decided to still go forward with the surgery.

“Since I had been through all the testing, I decided to give altruistically. With her permission, I did in December of 2011. I must say that since my husband also has Alport syndrome, the same disease as his mother, and our daughter has some signs of it, too, that was my way of ‘paying it forward.’ Through my story, maybe someone will decide to become a living kidney donor or sign up to be an organ donor.”

Kris OienKris and husband Jeff.

Kris highly recommends that people consider being kidney donors, but they should keep in mind that complications are possible, as with any surgery. She developed a hernia seven months after her donation, and had to have surgery to repair it. But she says that next to giving birth to her kids, it was one of the greatest experiences of her life.

“It was the best gift I have ever given. I have developed friendships with other kidney donors, those that I will cherish all of my days!”

That takes us to Kris’ more recent experience with Ultimate Hike, another amazing journey where she has developed lifelong friendships. Her journey began two years ago, when she started participating in a Zumbathon event that raised funds for Ultimate Hike.

Last year she was busy planning a Kidney Donor Awareness Ride (a motorcycle ride, dinner and silent action that she hosted to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation and The Ronald McDonald House). This year, after wanting to learn more about Ultimate Hike and meeting with Senior Regional Manager, Brecka Putnam, she knew it was the next step in carrying out her fitness plan and helping to stomp out children’s cancer.

Kris had a few good reasons to want to fight children’s cancer. A few years ago, she met Tyson and learned about his motorcycle friends, Kruzin’ for the Kidz. The group has an annual ride to raise money to buy toys for children’s hospitals. They also help individual families dealing with the stress of cancer and other sick or injured kids. Through the program, she met quite a few kids with cancer, and one in particular who truly touched her heart.

“Savannah was diagnosed with medulloblastoma (brain cancer) in 2011. I met her at a motorcycle ride October 2015. She lost her battle with cancer just before her 12th birthday. I am hiking in her memory. I am also hiking in honor of one of my daycare kids, who is now cancer-free. These kids deserve to run and play and just be kids. They deserve so much more when dealt a cancer diagnoses. This is why I choose to hike 25 miles in one crazy day! This is nothing compared to what they deal with.”

Kris is joining the Superior Hiking Trail Ultimate Hike on August 19th in honor of the superheroes she personally knows, and all the young superheroes who need improved medicines to stomp out cancer and help them get better.

Kris OienKris, a proud kidney donor.

“Cancer has touched my family in the past – ovarian, pancreatic and breast. I think everyone, sadly, has known someone with cancer, no matter big or small. I ask everyone to support my hiking efforts and donate or pray to help tell CANCER TO TAKE A HIKE!”

Kris is more than a wife and mother of three grown children. She’s done more than the 10 years of daycare she provided so she could be home with her children as they were growing up. She does more than serve two memory care units at a senior apartment complex and bake over 500 cookies, muffins and bars each week.

Kris is a passionate and caring person who wants to help others, and that’s evident in all that she’s done for both loved ones and complete strangers. She’s the type of person who CureSearch is very fortunate to have, and we can’t thank her enough for her strength, support and drive to help others. We wish her luck on her upcoming Hike and can’t wait to see what she does in the future!

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