Now in its tenth year, Homers for Health has been a driving force behind the mission of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Since the program began in 2012 under the leadership of former St. Louis Cardinal Matt Holliday and his wife, Leslee, thousands of generous donors have helped raise vital funds to support the programs and services of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, such as inpatient and outpatient cancer services, telemedicine, the imaging center and more.
This year, Homers for Health patient Kennedy Burger is back again to lead the way because she feels like there was unfinished work that could be done due to the shortened season last year.
With the baseball season last year not being what anyone would have imagined, that led to the Homers for Health Program needing to adjust as well. At its core, the program relies on the amount of home runs hit by the Cardinals, and if that number is smaller than normal, it can have a huge impact on the dollars raised for the hospital. So, with that, the program was based off of a set number of home runs, 195. Why 195? Because that represents the amount of beds inside SSM Health Cardinal Glennon and will truly connect the pledge you make to the patients receiving lifesaving care. Just like Kennedy received, who is one of 195.
With the success of that change last year and with hope that things go more normal this year in Major League Baseball, Kennedy suggested we select the number 195 again, and that’s just what we are doing! Kennedy is a fighter and wants to do all she can to help the hospital that saved her life.
Five years ago, Kennedy was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much protein in the urine.
“From that day on, we knew things were never going to be the same,” says Kennedy’s mom, Jodi Gruenloh. “Most people think that this kind of thing happens to other people, not you,” says mom.
“But it does,” Kennedy pipes in.
After her diagnosis, Kennedy had to be extremely careful with her diet, limiting her sodium intake and surprisingly, limiting the amount of water she drank to reduce stress on her kidneys. “It was so hard. If I ate too much sodium, my eyes and legs would get all swollen,” she says.
A biopsy revealed that the cause of Kennedy’s nephrotic syndrome was a condition called Minimal Change Disease, which can oftentimes be treated with medication. Unfortunately, in Kennedy’s case, they were not effective, and she required frequent hospitalizations where she received apheresis, a procedure to remove excess fluid from the body.
After about six months, a second biopsy revealed a further complication of Focal Sclerosis, which often leads to end-stage renal failure. All signs pointed to a kidney transplant. Jodi remembers, “It was scary. This is a major surgery, but it was going to lead to a better life.
In July of 2019, Kennedy received her transplant and today, “Life is great!” Kennedy says.
Thanks to all who have supported Homers for Health, we can provide lifesaving care to children like Kennedy each and every day. Make your pledge for patients today at homersforhealth.org.