Written by Donna Duffy Thursday, 10 March 2011 12:51
Families from all over Long Island converged on Hofstra University on Sunday, Feb. 28 for the Pride’s Women’s Basketball game against James Madison University.
While the hometown team escaped with 75-73 win, these families were there for a different reason – to support someone going through a similar plight.
Dawn Evans is a senior All-American for James Madison. She is among the leading scorers in the nation, a finalist for many Player of the Year awards and likely has a WNBA future. Evans also suffers from the incurable kidney disease Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).
FSGS is a disease that affects the kidneys’ filtering system. It allows proteins that the body needs to survive to escape through the patient’s urine. The result is a loss of kidney function. Patients eventually go into kidney failure, begin dialysis and then require a transplant, which itself doesn’t assure a cure as FSGS can attack the new kidney as well.
Evans’ kidneys are operating at about 20 percent. Once that number drops below 15 percent, she will require a transplant.
However, she doesn’t allow the disease to run her life. In addition to thriving on the hardwood, which is a miracle, she takes on the role as ambassador for The NephCure Foundation (www.nephcure.org), a non-profit dedicated to finding the cause and a cure for FSGS and the kidney disease Nephrotic Syndrome. NephCure has dedicated over $7 million to research and education of these diseases in recent years.
As part of her role, Evans, who was diagnosed with FSGS in her junior season, meets with patients and families after each game. After the JMU/Hofstra game, she told fans to stay strong and keep fighting, because they, too, know all about going through a very tough time. Among them were five pediatric kidney disease sufferers, Matthew Levine of Melville, Allie Genatt and Jake Rosario of New Hyde Park, Christopher Peterson of Bay Shore and Liam Flaherty of Ronkonoma.
“She is such an amazing inspiration,” said Rich Genatt, Allie’s father. “What Dawn is able to do on the basketball court while fighting this disease is astonishing. I don’t think anyone who is not living through this can comprehend how amazing it is that she can accomplish so much.”
Meeting Evans was something special for the patient families because she is a bonafide star. She was featured in a USA Today cover story last month and has been a basketball standout since high school. What is different now is that she has something very real in common with these fans that draw from her the inspiration to carry on in their fight against a disease that has no cure.