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Annual burger drive is for kidney disease awareness

Lindsey Hill photo

Steve and Noreen Dana are fundraising for kidney disease awareness.

SNOHOMISH — Noreen Dana spent the early part of Saturday afternoon with glints of sunlight flickering off her tiara and the whispering sound of a grill in the background.
She wore the tiara at the advice of friends, so that people she hadn’t seen in a while would know who the honored guest was -- she’s lost 120 pounds since she last saw many of them. The loss was deliberate: a way to push her body to heal.
Noreen and husband Steve Dana are the former owners of a legacy business in Snohomish: the Hub Drive-in, “Home of the Pantherburger.” The couple arrived at the Snohomish Chalet on Saturday to share their signature burger recipes at their second annual Hub Charity event.
The event menu showcased Pantherburgers, that nostalgic treat, as well as deluxe cheeseburgers and fries. Volunteers prepared all of the food.  
Noreen and Steve ran The Hub, after it was passed down in the family, until market pressures closed it in 2010.
“We had a pretty good and rabid following. People have been hounding me (ever) since” to make the burgers again, Steve Dana said. At first, he resisted. “I didn’t have a need for it, didn’t have a purpose for it.”
Then, two years ago, his wife of 47 years was diagnosed with kidney disease, and the motivation to make his signature burgers revealed itself: this event is annual, and is in its second year. This year, they raised just under $13,000. Last year, it was approximately $12,000. 
Saturday’s soiree was powered by 30 volunteers and nearly 400 participants, all gathered to support a cause: awareness of kidney disease, which includes not just the type of awareness that leads to donations, but the kind that halts the progression of a disease that can range from life-altering to deadly.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases, kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent disease” because in early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. Yet in early stages, it can be slowed with attention to diet, exercise, sleep habits, and other lifestyle changes. If undetected it can become chronic, leading to kidney failure that’s fatal without dialysis or transplant. The annual estimated cost for dialysis, before insurance, is $89,000, according to The Kidney Project, of the University of Southern California.
Bloodwork is what reveals the state of health for a kidney, the internal organ with the imperative role of filtering the blood. Noreen had been monitored for a lengthy time, until one visit, when her results led to a rapid trip to the hospital. Her glomerular filtration rate (GFR) test, which indicates the kidneys’ rate of filtration, had dropped to an abnormal level of only 7. Less than 60 is considered abnormal, according to The National Kidney Foundation. 
Noreen has a rare form of Type O-positive blood, making a donor hard to find. Saturday’s event was a fundraiser for The Road Back to Life, a nonprofit supporting kidney disease patients. The three-pronged goal of the event was community based and personal: raising funds, raising awareness about kidney disease and helping find Noreen a kidney.
Steve said most people who have undergone kidney treatments know what the primary focus of their life together has become. To halt the dialysis, he said, they have to find a donor with Noreen’s rare blood.
“We’re counting on the kindness of strangers,” he said.
It appears that there are not that many strangers around the Danas. As the event began, Noreen was greeted by friends and acquaintances, offering hugs and stories of like-experience. In a picnic-style event, partygoers mingled. Some at the event had been through kidney treatments, kidney failure, and one or more transplants.
Shannon Leigh has been through it. She volunteers as the executive director for The Road Back to Life, based in Seattle, and was passing out pamphlets at the event. “I’ve had two kidney transplants, and I’m waiting on a third.” She happily volunteers, because her nonprofit helped her and “I want to give back.” All the funds from Saturday’s event, less event expenses, will be donated to the nonprofit.
Ryan Crabtree has had three kidney failures. Most of Crabtree’s 37 years of life have been spent dealing with kidney disease. Classes through the nonprofit can help, he said. A six-week Survive and Thrive class teaches people to eat properly, manage fluids, and learn how to cope with what changes once a diagnosis occurs.
If you’d like to make a directed kidney donation to Noreen, contact the Danas at Reserve a food order by calling Steve Dana at 425-327-5948 or emailing The process includes a host of medical screenings through a transplant center. For information on the process for donating a kidney, review the “Living Donation: What You Need to Know” brochure by the National Kidney Foundation.



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