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Ritchie Johnson, President and Founder of the Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation

The Kidney Cancer Association was proud to sponsor the Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation’s 7th annual Keepin’ It Renal Walk on June 6, 2020. The event raises awareness and funds for renal medullary carcinoma (RMC), a rare form of kidney cancer that is primarily associated with sickle cell trait and almost exclusively affects young African Americans. The organization is named for Chris Johnson, who died of RMC in 2012.

The 7th annual Keepin ‘ It Renal Run/Walk was originally scheduled for March 28th, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two months later, the decision was made to hold the walk virtually in June. With safety in mind, this would allow everyone to choose a walking trail of their choice to complete the 5K and it allowed individuals in different states and countries to participate. 

Charissa Moran, who recently loss her husband Carlos to RMC in April of this year, organized a group to walk in New Jersey. She had approximately 50 people join her.  Nicola Casey organized a team in UK in memory of her husband Ricky, who died 9 months after being diagnosed with RMC. In a short period of time, she designed shirts for the 50 participants. 

Working together allowed us to reach more people. Education is essential because so many people in our communities and healthcare professionals haven’t heard of RMC. Health care disparities are real. People of color typically are denied access to healthcare due to lack of insurance and therefore are less likely to participate in clinical trials. As we continue our advocacy work, we realize that RMC is not as rare as we initially thought. 

It is time to work together so that our RMC community has access to institutions that have cutting edge research regardless of whether they have insurance or not. 

Ritchie Johnson, Chris Johnson’s mother, is the president and founder of the Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation and serves on the KCA’s Patient and Caregiver Advisory Council.

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