Statistics show that an estimated 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease and most people don't even know they have it.
One local girl is part of that very statistic and her community is supporting her.
24-year-old Kristin Thomas is a first-year student at Eastern Idaho Technical College. Although seemingly healthy and strong, Kristin suffers from chronic kidney failure; meaning her kidneys struggle to remove wastes and excess water from the body.
"I'm extremely tired all of the time and on the days that I do feel good, I try to not just sit at home because I'm just tired of being exhausted all of the time," said Kristin.
Kristin was enrolled in the nursing program at EITC until her illness made it impossible for her to continue her education. She says being on dialysis for hours at a time made it hard for her to attend classes.
"I really didn't want to leave school. That was definitely something that was really hard for me."
That's where McKenzie Owen comes into the picture. This recent EITC graduate heard of Thomas' struggle and stepped in. McKenzie organized a fundraiser, to generate financial support for her fellow peer.
"It was a combination of everything," said McKenzie. "Her story really touched me, she's very motivated and driven and a really awesome person and I just wanted to help her as much as I could."
Owen rallied the college and the local business community to generate over $30,000 to help Kristin pay for bills related to her illness and prepare her for the next phase of her journey: a kidney transplant.
"I try, as much as I possibly can, I try and do things as normal as possible," said Kristin. "I really try not to let it interfere with my life as much as I can."
While the transplant won't come to fruition until late this summer, in the meanwhile, Kristin says she's taking things one day at a time.
An account has been set up in Kristin's name at Idaho Central Credit Union. Contributions can also be sent to the Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation.
For more information about how to contribute, please contact Teresa Borrenpohl at the EITC Foundation at (208) 524-3000 ext. 3407.