Christopher Pennington honoured by Kidney Foundation for fundraising efforts

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By Barb McKay

A Kincardine boy has been recognized by the Ontario Kidney Foundation for his work to raise awareness about kidney disease and thousands of dollars to help find a cure.

At just 12 years old, Christopher Pennington knows a lot about challenges. A diagnosis of kidney disease in 2015 has put limitations on what has always been a very active lifestyle. Christopher is a skilled athlete and now must avoid contact sports. He plays net in hockey to limit the chance of injury and in the summer plays baseball as a pitcher. But his compromised immune system often takes him out of the games.

The reality is that kidney disease greatly impacts Christopher’s life,” his mother, Cathy Hambly, told The Independent. “There are many childhood activities and sports he will never get to be involved in, and this year alone he has missed 55 days of school, important hockey and baseball games fighting the disease as sometimes a simple thing like a cold causes his immune system to become even more compromised and he becomes very ill, which poses serious complications to his remaining kidney.”

Despite the struggles he faces on a daily basis, Christopher does not let his disease get the better of him. Instead, he does whatever he can to create awareness about kidney disease and has been incredibly active in raising funds to fight it. In the past two years, he has $20,000, mainly through Kidney Walks, for the Ontario Kidney Foundation for research in the hopes that one day soon there will be a cure.

Last month, Christopher was honoured as this year’s Ontario Kidney Foundation Excellence in Fundraising Award recipient. He received his award on May 6 during the foundation’s annual Volunteer Celebration Awards Dinner in King City.

“For me seeing and hearing the Kidney Foundation talk about what Christopher has accomplished in just two years with the support of his friends and the communities we live in was very emotional,” Hambly said. “Knowing that he puts his efforts into helping other deal with the financial burden of the disease makes me very proud and gives us hope that they will find a cure and he can continue to lead a normal life that he won’t have to have dialysis or need a transplant.”

Christopher said he was really nervous when he received the award, but is really happy that so many people have helped him raise so much money.

“I get disappointed when I can’t play sports I like and it’s kind of scary when my kidney doesn’t feel right and I pass blood,” he said of his illness.

But, despite his fears Christopher wants to help others and continue to lead the kidney walks, which he says make him happy andhe feels he can make a difference and help find a cure. The next Kidney Walk will be held Sept. 10 in Goderich and Christopher plans to enter a team.