An avid kayaker, runner, and all-around outdoorsman, Robert Gyurjan is turning his passions into a way to raise awareness about focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Originally from Debrecen, Hungary, Robert moved to the United States in 2000.
It wasn’t until eight years later that he realized something wasn’t quite right with his health. He was ultimately diagnosed with FSGS at the age of 30. Rather than let the disease take control of his life, he has found a way to use what he loves to raise critical funds to help find a cure; even creating the “R U Kidneying Me?” team.
NephCure: How did you first get involved with NephCure Kidney International?
Robert: I was diagnosed with FSGS in 2008. My proteinuria was somewhat under control for years, then a test at the end of 2017 showed that things might be going downhill. So, I wanted to search for and reach out to other patients looking for doctors and resources. A Google search led me to NephCure and I was hooked from there on out!
What are some goals you are setting for yourself?
I started fundraising for NephCure last year and I’m continuing my efforts this year. While the obvious goal is to raise more money each year, I have realized that raising awareness is just as important. I’m trying to reach more people and educate them on FSGS through various type of marketing tools such as social media and newspaper articles. I was even able to put up a billboard encouraging folks to donate to my team “R U Kidneying Me?”
What are some of your successes to date?
In 2018, I was able to raise a little over $4,200. This year, as part of Countdown to Cure in Boston and a New England champion, I have been able to raise about $3,500 so far; those numbers are increasing as you read this!
Are there any challenges you have faced?
Since I use the Josh Billings Triathlon as a ‘vehicle’ for my fundraising efforts, there is always a personal challenge to complete this 27-mile bike, 5-mile kayak and 6-mile run competition. Last year I did all three myself, but this year I was a kayaker as part of a team. On the other hand, while the local hospital has a great nephrology department, it seems like there is never enough doctors and having a difficult time with replacements.
Why is it so important for you to get involved with NephCure and our mission?
Most of the volunteers are either related to patients or patients themselves. There is nothing more driven, dedicated than a heart of a volunteer. I have only met/talked with a handful of NephCure friends, but I have always felt a special connection from the first minute I got involved with them. Whether it was discussing a project or talk about the disease, it is truly like a big family.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
With some much-appreciated help, I have created my own promo and team name, “R U Kidneying Me?”, with a weblink www.TeamRUK.comthat is linked to my NephCure fundraising page for easy access. I am also a single father of a wonderful 10-year-old son, Sammy. Hockey and baseball are his passions!