National Kidney Foundation Thanksgiving Back Event

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On Saturday, Nov. 18, a fundraising event was held at the Soul Infusion Tea House and Bistro in Sylva. The organizer of the event was Erin Adams, a Professor of Interior Design at Western Carolina University.

“The goal of the event is two-fold. Number one is to raise awareness about kidney disease, but more importantly about organ donation in general. The second piece is to raise money to give back to the National Kidney Foundation,” said Adams.

Adams described how her brother needed a kidney, but since the waitlist was so long, she decided the best thing to do would be to donate one of her own. The surgery, however, would have costed upwards of half a million dollars. Luckily, the National Kidney Foundation stepped in and covered the entire procedure, which took place this past August.

It is easy to see why Adams would be so willing to host such an event: The National Kidney Foundation is responsible for providing hope and restoring the lives of people like Adams and her brother.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the raffle at $5 per ticket, in addition to ten percent of total sales from the restaurant for the day, will be donated to the National Kidney Foundation. There were also baseball hats for sale for $5, all of which went to the foundation as well.

“The community has been spectacular. We’ve got over fifteen gift certificates to local bookstores, eateries, oil changes, bowling and things like that. Artists also contributed pieces like stained glass and ceramics. There is just a beautiful array of prizes,” said Adams.

Alma Russ, a musician specializing in banjo, guitar, fiddle and vocals, volunteered to be part of the event and performed in the restaurant. After seeing a post on Facebook, Russ felt inclined to dedicate her services to Erin to help make the fundraising event as successful as possible.

Russ’s performance was a success, receiving hearty rounds of applause. She also inserted some comedy within the background information she provided in between songs.

“Do you guys want to know what a small pizza and a banjo player have in common? Neither can really feed a family,” said Russ. “They go on. Just tell me to stop.”

The cheerful atmosphere made for the perfect Saturday afternoon, all the while contributing to an organization which helps save lives.

In addition to Adams organizing the event, Tori Walters, co-owner of Soul Infusion Tea House and Bistro, also made the event possible by providing her business as a venue for the fundraiser, as well as deciding to donate a portion of all sales for the day to the National Kidney Foundation.

“Erin is a good friend of mine. I know all about her donating a kidney to her brother this past summer and it is something that resonated deep in my heart. My sister was the recipient of a pancreas about four years ago at Emory University Hospital and my father passed away in 1986 at Emory waiting on a heart transplant. My mother immediately went to the Atlanta Regional Organ Procurement Agency and started working for them. So, organ donation has been something that has been very close to me and my family,” said Walters.

Walters felt that raising awareness is not only important, but easy to do. Hearing stories like Adams’ and Walters’ can inspire feelings of wanting to contribute to the cause. Becoming a registered organ donor with the DMV can be a good place to start.

To get involved with the National Kidney Foundation by donation or volunteering, please visit their website at or contact them at They can also be reached at (800) 622-9010.