Authors Luncheon 2019 - Supporting Kidney Health - Nov 16th - JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa

#1 Humor with a Purpose

Meet Erma Bombeck... wife, mother, humorist, author and nationally syndicated columnist who was featured for years on ‘Good Morning America’.

Erma proposed the first Authors Luncheon in 1980, inviting fellow authors and friends from across the country to raise funds and awareness of kidney disease. Erma began her own personal battle with a hereditary disorder, polycystic kidney disease, in the early 1990’s, and unfortunately succumbed to complications of the disease in 1996. To date, through the efforts of the Arizona Women’s Board and the Authors Luncheon, Erma and her husband Bill were responsible for helping to raise more than $4,500,000 of financial support for Arizona kidney patients.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”

~ Erma Bombeck

Written by the Arizona Women’s Board in honor of Erma Bombeck

#2 I Love You With...

Meet Adriana Trigiani... best selling author, award winning playwright, television writer/producer, filmmaker and Authors Luncheon Emcee.

I knew Erma Bombeck’s work before I knew she had kidneys. She was a brilliant writer, an author of essential bestsellers about life written with humor and wisdom, the champion of mothers, housewives and working people, a Catholic girl with a word or two for the local priest, a smitten wife and beloved mother herself. She would appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and on morning TV and kill. She was hilarious!

I was a kid who collected pins- I had some good ones: Ratify the ERA, a vintage Nixon’s the One, and one with Donna Summer’s face singing Love to Love You Baby. Learning of my passion, my Aunt Jean sent me a note with a pin to add to the collection. It was a green laminated paper kidney with the simple message: I Love You With All My Kidney. I believe in signs.

Long ago, before there was a diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure, when I had not heard the word dialysis, applied to family and friends, and knew nothing of the sturdy, humble kidney organ and its function, that simple message resonated deeply with me. Years later, when I saw Erma speak of her own prognosis on television, I remember feeling bereft and helpless. That’s why I’m here- and will be as long as my fellow Lizzies fight the fight- there’s much to do, but together we can have an impact.

“Erma’s work changed the world; if we stay the course, we will too.”

~ Adriana Trigiani


#3 When God Created Mothers

Meet Matt Bombeck... writer, kidney transplant recipient and son of Erma Bombeck.

My mom could mine humor in just about everything that came her way: marriage, mothers, housework, kids—it was a long list. Kidney disease was not on it. “You’ll get people feeling sorry for you—and you should never feel sorry for a humorist,” she said. She also believed that it’s not what happens to you—things happen to everyone—but how you deal with what happens to you that makes the difference. That was how she coped, and the long tradition of the Authors Luncheon embodies that spirit; bring some writers together, a funny emcee, and take on a serious fight with joy and laughter.

“If you can’t make it better, you can always laugh at it.”

~ Erma Bombeck

#4 Life is for Sharing

Meet Cheri Tomlinson... healthcare executive, community leader, Authors Luncheon patron and caregiver to a family friend with Polycystic Kidney Disease.

Jason had been on the transplant wait list for five years when he called Cheri at 8:00 p.m. on August 8th, 2018, and said hurriedly, “I am second on-the-list for a kidney and I will know by midnight. If I am selected, can you be with me at the hospital at 7:00 a.m.?” Cheri and her husband had been there often for Jason over their twenty-year friendship, sharing his struggle with kidney disease. This time was different.

One midnight call can change everything. A single-dad to nine-year old Riley, Jason had a real chance now to see his daughter grow up. He and Riley lived with the Tomlinsons while Cheri cared for him post-surgery, every day celebrating the shared gift of life. Today, Jason and Riley are home and thriving.

“Save a Life – It’s in You.”

~ Erma Bombeck


#5 Living My Life

Meet Katie Grannan... daughter, friend, outdoor enthusiast, and lover of life.

Katie Grannan was an energetic 10-year-old when a sports physical detected a rare autoimmune disease was destroying her kidneys. By the time she was a senior at Northern Arizona University, she could barely leave her bed—no longer able to keep up her busy school schedule, work and exercise classes. In July 2014, doctors told her she would need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. Her parents were devastated to learn they weren’t a match for organ donation. Desperate to save her only child, Katie’s mom posted a plea on Facebook. She was surprised to receive several responses in a short time, including one from a former neighbor, Amy Sperry, who tested positive as a match and was ready to help save Katie’s life. Now 34, Katie is her energetic self, socializing with friends, encouraging them to join her cycling, hiking, running and paddle boarding.

“Living with a kidney disease hasn’t been easy. I dealt with constant back pain and extreme fatigue. Thanks to Amy, Facebook and the transplant team at St. Joseph’s, I am back to living my life!”

~ Katie Grannan

#6 When Forced to Choose

Meet Esther Dominguez… end stage renal disease and dialysis patient at Maricopa Integrated Health System (soon to be Valleywise Health).

Esther always finds the positive in any situation and has a smile on her face. However, behind her smile and positive attitude she was often struggling to make ends meet. Living alone, Esther found herself on repeated occasions having to choose between paying for food or paying for transportation. Calling her renal disease social worker to say she would have to miss a treatment because she could not cover the cost of getting there, Esther knew she was putting her life at risk. Without dialysis, fluid overload and toxin buildup for dialysis patients is deadly. Fortunately, funds from the Arizona Women’s Board grant were available to pay for Esther’s transportation.

“I am grateful to those who help me avoid being forced to choose.”

~ Esther Dominguez


#7 Worst Day, Best Day

Meet Andy Bombeck… kidney transplant recipient and son of Erma Bombeck.

Growing up, I couldn’t have anticipated, the worst day of my life, and one of the best days would be related to Polycystic Kidney Disease. The worst day happened April 22, 1996, the day my mom passed away following a much anticipated kidney transplant. One of the best days of my life happened on April 11, 2003 when my girlfriend, Shari, donated a kidney to me and six months later we were married. Almost daily, I think about my mom. Even during the toughest years leading up to her transplant, her optimism remained incredible. My mom was always a fighter and lived every day like it could be her last. Today, I wish my mom was here on April 11, 2003, to celebrate my transplant. Anyone fighting kidney disease should use my mom as inspiration to keep moving forward and never give up.

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

~ Erma Bombeck

#8 We are not Alone

Meet Deja... successful pediatric kidney transplant patient at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

When Deja was suddenly sent to Phoenix Children’s Hospital emergency room, Rita Gooden learned her sweet daughter had end stage renal disease and needed a kidney. Deja was placed on the transplant list and endured two years of dialysis while waiting. “Although our family has been fractured by the devastation of Deja's disease,” said Rita, “our family has grown in love. Our support system of immediate family, elementary school, and friends rallied around us and has remained incredibly strong.” Deja’s kidney transplant has been very successful. Recently, the Gooden family received funds from an Arizona Women’s Board grant for vehicle repairs when their car broke down and Deja needed transportation to her medical treatment. “Blessings like this remind me that we are not alone,” said Rita. “Our community has our back. Do not live in fear. We can do this!”

“We are hard pressed in every way but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed but not absolutely with no way out.”

~ 2 Corinthians 4:8


#9 Waiting with Hope

Meet Lily... a sweet, active nine-year old girl waiting on something a lot more important than dessert or a new game... she needs a new kidney.

Diagnosed at the age of three with nephrotic syndrome, Lily and the nephrology team at Phoenix Children’s Hospital were able to keep her disease under control with medication and diet for five years. Then Lily became too sick and her kidneys had to be removed in October 2018. Now, Lily receives dialysis treatment three times a week while she waits for a kidney donor. It’s challenging as Lily’s diet and activity level are restricted and her immune system is compromised. But Lily’s mom, Rebecca Kopp, says Lily has stayed strong and steady throughout her ordeal. Finding a live donor willing to give Lily a kidney would be the best outcome for this little girl who her mom calls a “rock star.” People in good health who undergo testing for ideal matching can live healthy, vibrant lives with only one kidney. Rebecca says the entire family, including Lily’s dad Tony Rios, and her parents have had a hand in Lily’s care and that the process has helped her daughter mature beyond her years.

“Lily has always been happy, strong and sweet. She never complains about anything and she has grown into such an incredible little girl.”

~ Rebecca Kopp

#10 Back on Track

Meet Robert Bartelme... Valley native, parks supervisor, husband, father, volunteer and outdoor enthusiast.

As a City of Tempe employee for a quarter-century, Robert Bartelme, 51, has been counting down the years to retirement, imagining himself leading an active lifestyle in his golden years. That was, however, until his kidneys began to fail, threatening to rob him of his dreams. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 28, Robert had been managing the disease successfully ever since … or so he thought. One day in Spring 2017, Robert blacked out completely. A series of tests indicated that his body was no longer filtering his insulin properly. The cause? His kidneys were failing. Dialysis helped, but it restricted his social life and curbed his Knights of Columbus volunteer activities. Thankfully, with a kidney donated by his daughter and the compassionate care at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Robert is back on track.

“I’m optimistic that I’ll be volunteering in no time, and that my retirement will allow me to go swimming, boating and fishing … all the things I’ve been missing.”

~ Robert Bartelme


#11 Staying Ahead of the Game

Meet Marcus Seiler... focused on the future.

When Marcus was in his early teens, his family was tested for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) because his father’s sister had passed away due to complications of the disease. While Marcus’ sister was found to be PKD-free, Marcus and his father were not. Twenty years later, after at-home and in-clinic dialysis, Marcus’ dad got a transplant that lasted more than ten years. Unfortunately, heart and kidney complications took him from Marcus’ family before he turned 70. Today, Marcus is 45 years old and his key vitals say that he is ahead of the game... for now. “I am focused on being active, my diet, and holistic treatments.” said Marcus. “And I have a strong faith that before PKD starts to take more of an effect on me, science will afford the PKD community more medicines, treatments and transplant options that will make the rest of this journey a smooth one.”

“It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”

~ Hippocrates

#12 Luncheon Legacy

Meet Harriet Friedland... wife, mother, volunteer, leader, and Chairwoman of Arizona’s first Authors Luncheon.

Within days of moving to Arizona in 1974, Harriet began volunteering for the Arizona Kidney Foundation Women’s Board. Back then, raising funds for kidney programs involved potluck dinners and auctions, with Women’s Board members cooking and donating items from their homes for a great cause. After a few years, Arizona Kidney Foundation board member Erma Bombeck suggested to the Women’s Board volunteers that they put on an authors luncheon. Erma offered to invite her writer friends who she was certain would attend. Harriet bravely volunteered to chair this first-time event in 1980. Erma invited her former next-door neighbor from Dayton, Ohio and talk show host Phil Donahue, best-selling author Judy Blume, and celebrity pediatrician Dr. Lendon Smith. Erma served as Emcee for the event. It was an immediate success, drawing more than 600 people in its first year. Since then, the Authors Luncheon has continued to flourish. “It was a diverse group of women, all ages, smart, capable, hardworking, competent... working together to maintain the direction for the cause,” says Harriet. Today, Harriet continues to be an advocate and inspirational leader for the Arizona Women’s Board, serving as a Sustaining Member and Emcee of the Authors Dinner, an exclusive opportunity for leading donors to enjoy conversations with the authors in an intimate setting the night before the Luncheon.

“Arizona Women’s Board is about people giving to people. Gaining strength from one another and filling a need. Women working together and making things happen.”

~ Harriet Friedland


#13 Charting New Opportunities

Meet Patrick Pirrotte Ph D. ... Assistant Professor, Cancer and Cell Biology Division, and Technical Director of TGen's Collaborative Center for Translational Mass Spectrometry.

Funds from the Arizona Women's Board grant to TGen Foundation have enabled Dr. Patrick Pirrotte, in partnership with Drs. Murtaza, Raupach and their respective teams, to study pediatric patient urine samples as a potential non-invasive approach for diagnosing kidney cancers and potentially other kidney diseases. In particular, the team has looked at urine DNA and how it may be organized with proteins and within vesicles. Until recently, urine DNA was understood to be largely degraded and not useful as a biomarker. The funded research may provide exciting opportunities for detecting and monitoring kidney cancer, as well as therapeutic efficacy in kidney cancer patients, through serial, non-invasive sampling of urine. Detecting the DNA degradation pattern allows health practitioners to identify advancing disease in pediatric patients much earlier and far less invasively. The biomarker test serves as an early indicator of the chance of children developing kidney cancer and as an alternative to tumor biopsies.

"Our work has been drafted into a scientific manuscript and is currently under peer-review, thanks to the Arizona Women's Board's gracious donation."

~ Patrick Pirrotte, Ph D













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