Good News Friday: My friend Catherine donates a kidney to a total stranger, in an amazingly selfless gesture. The best home run rob of a T-ball smash you’ll see. And a wonderful charity fulfills wishes of homeless kids

Longtime readers of this space, and my close friends and family, know an unusual fact about me: I was born with only one kidney.

Most people get a set, like when buying mittens or socks. For rare special folks like me, only one kidney is available at birth.

I didn’t discover this fact about myself until 2010, which I wrote about in this blog post, when a simple stomach scan revealed that my right kidney was missing it’s normal buddy, lefty.

All of this is to say, since I learned this about myself nine years ago, I’m pretty attuned to kidney news. I am always asking about my kidney at doctor appointments, I encourage people to sign up to be organ donors, and I worry that with only one good one, I might one day need a transplant.

If that day ever comes, I can only hope and pray that there’s someone out there as selfless, warm, and giving as Dr. Catherine Pearlman, who I am so damn lucky to call a friend.

This week, in the best lede to a Good News Friday I can remember, my friend walked into UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and donated one of her kidneys. To a total stranger she’d never met.

Months ago, Catherine was in a California Starbucks when she saw a flyer with a photo of a man she’d never seen before, and the flyer said he was in need of a kidney donation. His blood type was O+, just like hers.

Ninety-nine percent of people in the world would’ve thought “Hmmm. Poor guy. I hope he gets a kidney,” and moved on with their life.

But she’s in the one percent in the best way possible: She’s empathetic, warm, and so, so selfless (she’s married to Jeff Pearlman, so God knows she’s filled with patience, too 🙂

After getting tested and cleared, this week she went into surgery, and her perfectly healthy kidney was transplanted into Eli Valdez, who she’s never met.

Jeff wrote a heartwarming blog post about the whole saga, and his emotional meeting with Eli’s family. I don’t want to spoil it, because it’s such a good read; please read it here. (Both Catherine and Eli are doing well since the Wednesday surgery).

When I found out Catherine was doing this, I was… in awe. And filled with joy. That there are still so many good people out there, willing to do something so selfless.

I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a friend of mine. Since I first met her 20 years ago, when Jeff invited me to dinner to meet his new girlfriend, she has been a wonderful source of goodness and light.

So many good people in this world. Some of them may even give you a kidney one day.

“We can’t all be heroes,” the great Will Rogers once said. “Because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

I’m on the curb clapping very loudly today, Catherine. You’re a true hero.

**Whew, that was heavy. OK, time for something fun. How about this completely random video of a T-ball game, and a great hit from a batter, only to see an even-greater home run robbing catch by a left fielder?

I have no idea where this is from, but it appears to be Japan, and the fact that there are announcers at a T-ball game is kind of weird, but forget all that; How awesome is this catch???

Future Ichiro, that kid in left field.

**And finally today, a wonderful story I heard about through the Only Good News Network, a great follow on Twitter.

A charity called Alice’s Kids buys small, necessary items for homeless kids whose parents simply are unable to afford them.  Things like noise-cancelling headphones for a girl with sensory disorders, or a trumpet for a talented music student who really needed it.

Alice’s Kids was founded in 2011, and gets these requests from teachers, social workers, and others who work with children less fortunate.

The nonprofit then grants the wish by sending gift cards to the parents so they can purchase the gift themselves.

“We’re not going to solve all the pains of all the children,” Ron Fitzimmons, the co-founder of Alice’s Kids, told The Washington Post. “But we just want to be part of the answer at least.”

What a wonderful idea. Here’s a great Washington Post story about Alice’s Kids, which brought them a huge amount of publicity. And find out more about Alice’s Kids on their website here.

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