A Gift of Joy for Dialysis Patients: The Sunflower Project

Updated: May 17

by Kathryn Odgers

Rebecca Townsend's grandmother, Christine Christoff

Article by Alexis Loewen and Kathryn Odgers

Video by Kathryn Odgers


Every year, over 37 million Americans are affected by kidney disease, with an approximation of 80 million people, or 1 in 3 American adults, is at risk. These men and women fight this everyday battle for years, with many different treatments and plans, such as dialysis or kidney transplant to extend their lives from a few years to a lifetime. Dialysis is a treatment plan used when kidneys fail to operate by removing waste from your body, working to control blood pressure, and maintaining a certain level of chemicals in your blood.


“My Student Legacy Experience focus is bringing awareness and giving back to kidney disease patients,” Rebecca says, “I’ve created a GoFundMe page to raise money towards purchasing materials for blankets and fistula bands for kidney disease and dialysis patients”. With the donations earned from the GoFundMe page, a website that allows individuals or groups to fundraise causes online from medical bills, education, and non-profit organizations, Rebecca will be able to hand-make and give these gifts to dialysis patients to bring them a little joy. These materials are bought from many different stores and are handmade by Rebecca herself to give these gifts more meaning. She even shares on her page that the amount of donations she’s received has given her enough funding to make at least 10 blankets and 15 fistula bands with her purchased materials so far.


The blankets from the Sun Flower Project and hand-made by Rebecca Townsend

“I’ve received a ton of support from teachers on campus at Minarets and from family & friends” including her two largest supporters who have been helping her since before the project officially began are teacher, Therese Righter, and Rebecca’s own mother. Mrs. Righter has been very supportive of her project and has been working with Rebecca in Key Club as the advisor for the organization. “She has a lot of experience, she is super supportive, and she is one of my favorite teachers on campus,” she says. Rebecca’s mother has also been very helpful for her project because of her resources and history with kidney disease, saying, “She knows a lot about kidney disease and she has a lot of connections with people in the L.A. area including Suzanne McGuire from the UCLA who is one of the living donor transplant organizers for my mom and grandma before she passed”.


Rebecca will be working on making the blankets and fistula bands during Community Day on Dec. 19, 2019, in Mrs. Righter’s room. She feels that by doing this, she’s not only leaving her own legacy at Minarets but also her grandmother’s legacy as well. If you would like to help contribute to her cause and see future updates to her SLE, you can donate here.

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