Forty UFT members, friends and family walked alongside Allison Hayden, a literacy coach and UFT Teacher Center site coordinator at PS 178 in the Bronx, for the 5K New York City Kidney Walk on Nov. 12, just as they had been there for her when she discovered a year ago that she had kidney disease and needed a transplant.
“I was shocked and didn’t know where to turn, so I reached out to my chapter leader immediately,” she said.
Chapter Leader Carolyn Jandelli put Hayden in touch with the UFT Welfare Fund, where she found support and information on coping with a serious operation and the financial burdens that can arise. Her fellow union members in her school, the co-directors at the UFT Teacher Center and the union’s Bronx borough office also supported her as she embarked on her medical journey.
“I see my union role as helping people in whatever way I can, whether it’s an ear to listen, emotional support or sharing my knowledge about contact people and numbers — it’s all part of my union work,” said Jandelli.
Hayden’s aunt was a match and willing to donate a kidney. The transplant took place on March 30, 2017, and Hayden returned to work two months later.
The 5K kidney walk, sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, was “a powerful way to raise awareness for kidney disease and transplants,” Hayden said.
She raised $2,990, nearly three times her goal.
“Seeing all the people who came out to support me was really empowering,” Hayden said. “It made me feel like I can do anything.”