The 6th Annual Donate Life Walk for Unyts and the Kidney Foundation of Western New York will be held on Saturday, September 24th at Delaware Park. We will be sharing “Why I Walk” stories leading up to the event that highlight the importance of the Walk. If you would like to share your story please email Sarah Diina at


Why I Walk - Christine Stolzenburg

Jeff Stolzenburg

My dad, Jeff Stolzenburg, passed away in January 1998 at the age of 39. My sisters and I were young at the time – I was 9, and my sisters Amanda and Cassondra were 6 and 4 years old.  My dad suffered from kidney disease for as long as I can remember. In 1991, both of his kidneys failed and he received a kidney from a living donor – his brother (my uncle) Larry Stolzenburg. Without that life-saving transplant, I’d have very few, if any, memories of my dad.

The kidney transplant was successful and gave us another 7 years with him.  In 1997 he became sick again, this time with a virus that he didn’t have a strong enough immune system to fight.  My mom – Shawna Stolzenburg – is one of the strongest people I know.  To go through that difficult loss at such a young age while taking care of my sisters and I who were all under the age of 10 – she’s amazing!

But to focus on the positives – because after all, that’s what my dad would have done – he lived a life filled with purpose and impacted the lives of so many people.  I’m blessed enough to see that in my everyday life because I’m now a manager at the same firm he used to be a partner with years ago.  I get to hear stories about him from his friends and former co-workers, since many of them still work here as well.  My dad was someone who knew what it meant to appreciate life and live it to the fullest.  People often tell me that what they remember about him the most is that he always had a smile on his face and was so happy.  He loved God, his family, and his community.  His generosity and genuine compassion for others is something I admire and try to follow every day.

My dad was involved with the National Kidney Foundation and served as President in the Buffalo region.  I remember participating in the annual “kidney walk” with my family and friends every year.  It’s been an event that has evolved over the years – different locations, affiliations with different National or local organizations, adding a competitive 5k event for a few years, but one thing has remained the same.  It has been a day focused on bringing the community together to raise money and awareness for a disease that impacts so many people but sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  By partnering with Unyts and the Kidney Foundation of WNY for the Donate Life walk, I believe we will have an even greater opportunity for community outreach and a true “celebration of life”. 


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