Cheerleaders fight kidney disease


Two Delaware Hayes High School cheerleaders are cheering each other on in their fights against the same bitter rival — kidney disease.

Sara-Ann Dietrich, a freshman at Hayes, has Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Katherine Coomes, a sophomore at Hayes, has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).

PKD is a genetic disease that causes multiple cysts to develop on the kidneys. The large number of cysts renders removal impossible and, over time, the cysts progressively decrease kidney function.

FSGS causes scarring of the kidney’s filters, which decreases kidney function. Katherine is in remission.

A walk to raise awareness about PKD and to raise funds to fund research is coming up in Columbus in October.

The moment of diagnosis is fixed in the minds of each of the girls and their mothers.

Denise Martin, Katherine’s mother, recalled the “truly sickening” feeling of “finding out that there’s something wrong with your child.”

“It is the worst thing you can ever go through,” she said.

Sara-Ann recalled receiving her diagnosis along with “a list of things I had to do and a list of things I couldn’t do.” One of the items on the list of things she couldn’t do was playing her favorite sport, soccer. “I always thought I could be a Hayes soccer player,” she recalled. Now she has found “new things I enjoy.” One of these things is cheerleading.

Katherine remembered that she was about to spend a weekend at Cedar Point when she had to have her kidney biopsied instead. She remembers hating her doctor at first, because he was the one who gave her the diagnosis. Now she smiles at the thought because he “is actually really nice.”

Autumn Dietrich, Sara-Ann’s mother, recalled that when Sara-Ann was diagnosed, “I just needed to cry and I couldn’t find anybody who knew what was going on.” This experience caused her to realize “we need to raise awareness and support and research.”

For the girls and their mothers, getting to know each other has provided them with the support system that they have found to be lacking in the kidney disease community. “These two girls have each other here,” said Autumn with a smile on her lips and tears in her eyes. “It’s nice to have that support group and that’s one of the big reasons for the [walk for PKD]: to fund the research and provide the support groups because it’s not there.”

“When you are able to share those things and those experiences with each other, it’s such a nice thing,” said Denise. You realize, ‘OK, I have someone in this fight.’”

To join the fight against PKD, register for the 2015 Central Ohio Walk for PKD. It will be on Oct. 3 at Wolfe Park, 105 Park Drive, Columbus. Check-in and on-site registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will start at 10 a.m. There is no fee to participate, but walkers are encouraged to participate in fundraising efforts before the walk.

The walk will support “critical programs of PKD research, advocacy, education, support and awareness,” according to Visit for more information and to register for the walk.

Sara-Ann Dietrich (right) has Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), while Katherine Coomes has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Dietrich (right) has Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), while Katherine Coomes has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).
2 Hayes High students afflicted

By Megan Neary

For The Gazette

Megan Neary can be reached at [email protected].

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