Ben's Story

I've been told that everything happens for a reason and my journey to the T.J. Martell Foundation is one that starts a long time ago.

I was asked to help out with the 1st annual Kidney Foundation River Roast, a Barbecue competition and concert, in my hometown of Chattanooga, TN.

I did, and continued to work on this event for the next 12 years, even spending a short time on the board. Fast forward 20 years. I was working and living in a different community and spoke to my good friend, David Corlew, about wanting to contribute my time and asked for his suggestion on how to do that. He introduced me to Laura Heatherly and the T.J. Martell Foundation. I would soon learn the reason behind all my years working with the Kidney Foundation and my newfound efforts with the T.J. Martell Foundation as I found myself having pains in my side within a year of sitting on the board. I went to the Emergency Room, and after having a cat scan, the doctor entered the room with both good news and bad news. The good, a kidney stone in my right kidney, which was easily fixable. The bad, a growth on my left kidney, larger than a tennis ball which would probably mean the removal of my kidney, along with the tumor.

I was reminded that by serving on the board of the T.J. Martell Foundation, I would have access to Vanderbilt Hospital and their wonderful resources. My wife, Katie, reached out to Laura Heatherly and Laura and her amazing staff immediately went to work to get us in. My surgery was scheduled and because Vanderbilt is cutting edge, they offered the option of a partial Nephrectomy, as opposed to the removal of my entire kidney. The tumor was removed and my life was saved.

I feel that the dollars that T.J. Martell provides for research is worth so much because the cutting edge treatment coming out of Vanderbilt saved my life. With T.J. Martell, and organizations like it, the proper research would not have been done and the techniques used may not have been there for me.

I will be forever indebted to the folks that met us at the door, the people that helped Katie arrange everything, the people that came by to see us, and the prayers that were received and answered. I am honored and look forward to serving another term on the board and promise to work diligently so the T.J. Martell Foundation can continue the magnificent work it does.