Friday, June 6, 2014

We Heart Kidney Tom

This is my friend, Tom:

Tom, in all his handsome glory
A few months ago, Tom was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The most basic layman's terms I can gather and communicate is that this disease causes scarring in the functional unit of the kidney, which can lead to a range of mild to severe kidney problems. It's chronic, but treatable over time and with some combination of good care and luck, symptoms will hopefully subside over time rather than getting worse.

Tom is a really awesome guy whom I've known since the end of 2009 when we started taking improv classes. Since then, we've been in the Chupacabra Conspiracy together and I can say with a high level of confidence that Tom is one of the wittiest comedians I know. I keep telling him to do stand up. Maybe one day he will!

At one of our Chupacabra shows

As you can imagine, Tom has many friends who love him a lot. We were all dismayed to hear about the diagnosis, even if we were also optimistic that it would respond to treatment. A few weeks after, my friend Michelle decided to run the NYRR Healthy Kidney 10K in Tom's honor and invited an even larger group to join her. We were all very much onboard with this idea.

But wait! There's more. It was decided that the participation of everyone but Michelle would be kept a secret from Tom. His girlfriend Carmen was in on the surprise and instrumental in maintaining the secret. The story was that Michelle was running the race in Tom's honor and would therefore have to come cheer her on. Carmen told him that, while she'd love to do the race, she would be busy with something else that morning but insisted that he go and spectate for Michelle.

Eight of us registered for the race and we decided to make t-shirts for ourselves and for Tom and his parents, who also planned to attend the race (unbeknownst to Tom). The night before, we all gathered at my friend Jessica G's apartment for a t-shirt making party. In attendance were Carmen, Jessica A, Elana, Allison, Michelle and myself. And obviously Jessica G.

Beautiful faces holding more beautiful faces
Tell me more!
Don't be fooled by her shy smile. Carmen was a kidney scheme mastermind.
It was getting late
After all the shirts were made, we went home for some pre-race sleep, woke up bright and early and headed to Central Park. Props to Elana, Jessica and Allison for running to the race from Queens! Once at the park, we were joined by Amortya. We made a special shirt just for him that we named the "Tom Bra." You'll see why shortly. We also got some last minute advice and encouragement from Mr. Speculum:

Michelle had instructed Tom to be waiting for us on the Central Park loop at 72nd Street. Despite the fact that many in our group run different paces, we decided to stick together until we saw Tom in order to maximize the surprise. The gun went off and we probably waited for 5 minutes before actually crossing the start line. After about half a mile, we saw Tom on the loop. The look on his face as we passed by was priceless. He even ran for a bit with us, which is really something if you know Tom.

After we saw him and all gave him hugs, we split up and ran the race in smaller groups. None of us was running for time, so we enjoyed ourselves and met up after the finish line for food and fun.

We all had an amazing time preparing for and running this race and we think Tom did, too, even though he professes a hatred of running. He's really just a big ol' softie on the inside. We love you, Tom!

A big thanks to Moses G. and Jessica A. for contributing pictures!


  1. Great Blog!!! What a heartfelt blog post. I enjoyed being part of that day and of course the pre party and after party. I had a wonderful time with all that participated.

  2. Great pictures! And I love the video - J.Azad has a great voice!

  3. Thank you Katie for such an amazing post. I love you guys right back.