By Linda Commito
A story to inspire you to step it up in your own life.
There is something special about my friend Kathy Fitz—the way that she truly engages with each person, deeply listens, and makes you feel like you matter. I always love being in her presence, and I walk away feeling grateful for our time together. But when I learned that Kathy had decided to donate a kidney to a total stranger just because it was something she could do . . . I was awed and wanted to know more.
Kathy, who grew up in St. Louis, MO, always remembers what her mother instilled in her as a child: “Whenever you give, even if its canned goods, always give the best that you can afford. Do the best by each person that you can.”
As an adult, Kathy was open to adventure and moved around a lot. She worked in San Diego with young people who had autism, lived in Hawaii and, even briefly, in Antarctica. Later, she found herself living and working at the Omega Institute in New York, interspersed with teaching jobs at preschools. One long-time friend, Steve, whom she met at Omega, says: “Kathy is loved by all who have the chance to meet her and be in her presence. Unpretentious, humble and kind are her strong qualities.” And now, with the purchase of a house that she shares in community, and a dog whom she rescued, Kathy calls Sarasota, FL, home.
Although Kathy had on occasion thought about being an organ donor, she said, “I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do physically.” Kathy changed her mind when she was inspired by the episode on American Ninja Warrior when 22-year-old Austin Gray, who donated a kidney to save the life of his childhood friend, then went on to win second place in a Ninja Warrior competition.
Although friends and family tried to talk her out of it, saying “It’s insane!” Kathy answered: “Of course I would do that. Why wouldn’t I?” And so, she did! At 61, Kathy chose to donate a kidney anonymously. She sometimes thinks about the young person and their family, especially during the holidays, and the gift of having more time together.
Kathy shares her other motivation: “It feels good because life seems so mean these days and for me to add some positivity to the world at this time in history is more meaningful to me.”
Her financial concerns were alleviated by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), who took care of all expenses once Kathy was accepted. She felt healthy going into surgery, and well enough afterwards that she even walked two miles roundtrip, five days after surgery, to get Atlanta’s famous donuts!
Now a year later, Kathy says, “I would do it again for sure.” While reticent to share initially, she now feels that it’s important to tell people, and to let others know that there are many ways to help, even if it is through financial donations or listing one’s intentions on their license or in their will.
Kathy’s story inspires me to want to step it up in my own life. I believe we each have our own unique ways of positively impacting our family, friends, coworkers and even strangers. Everything, big or small, anonymously or face-to-face, is a gift that can make a difference in the life of another. In whatever way we choose, may we offer hope as we help to create a kinder, more loving world for all.
Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more loving, and interconnected place. Linda’s award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love Is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. Her latest project, the card game Just Ask 1 2 3, was inspired by a desire to connect people of all different ages, beliefs and lifestyles to share our individuality and find commonality. Linda also created “Kindness Starts with Me,” a program, book and website for children. For more information visit http://www.LoveistheNewCurrency.com or visit the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Justask123game