A few years ago Wardell Collins began to feel tired no matter how much sleep he got.
Collins, 24, is an assistant basketball coach at Foothill High School in Pleasanton. Urged by his girlfriend to visit the doctor, Collins was in disbelief when he learned both of his kidneys were failing.
"We were all shocked and saddened to hear the news about Coach Wardell," said Cheryl Bates Rhoades, whose son Jimmy played basketball at Foothill from 2009 to 2011. As a frequent volunteer who drove students to games, Rhoades got to know Collins well.
"Wardell is truly an amazing young man," she said. "He would prepare the boys for the game ahead, encouraging them to work hard and stay focused. He had a way of making them feel like they were capable of winning against any competitor." Collins' condition grew worse, and as he suffered from debilitating headaches he was placed on dialysis 10 hours every day.
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, African-Americans, are four times more likely than people of European descent to suffer from kidney failure. Since the average wait for a kidney transplant for African-Americans is six to 10 years, Collins, who is African-American, feared that finding a donor might not be possible, especially since his brother and an uncle were medically unable to donate.
Then, in a moment Collins will never forget, his aunt, Yolanda Collins, 35, offered to donate one of her kidneys. Yolanda herself nearly died in February 2011. She had been upstairs when her home in Forest Park suddenly exploded due to a gas leak. Rescued from the flames by nearby workers who heard her screams, she lost her home and all her belongings, but she retained her life, which Yolanda believes was saved by God to give life to her 24-year-old nephew. This past December, just 11 months after the terrifying diagnosis, the kidney transplant took place, and today Collins is feeling better and much stronger.
Unfortunately, he still has unpaid medical bills, so the Foothill basketball team will hold a "Shoot-a-Thon" to raise money to help with his expenses from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the high school. Straw Hat pizza will donate lunch for all participants.
Donations are needed, and everyone is encouraged to come over to the school to watch. Foothill High School is located at 4375 Foothill Road in Pleasanton. For more information, contact Cheryl Bates Rhoades at 925-487-8780 or email her at Cheryl.Bates-Rhoades@unionbank.com.
SHARING THE PARKING: Wednesday morning, in honor of Alameda County's Carpool to School Day, students at Foothill High School welcomed city officials and school board members as students unveiled the bold step of converting valuable senior parking spaces into a carpool parking area.
"This is a wonderful idea because it helps the environment and will reduce traffic going into the student lots," said Ellen Fetherston, a Foothill junior who is a member of the Safe Routes club.
Carpool drivers will receive a $25 gas card, and passengers will be entered into weekly drawings for gift cards to local businesses. To find a carpool buddy, visit pleasantonschoolpool.org. This effort is a partnership with Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools and the City of Pleasanton.
Contact Jim Ott at firstname.lastname@example.org.