Barrett Smith, Pratt resident and teacher at PCC and former Kiowa County Extension Agent in Greensburg, is in need of a kidney transplant. His friends have stepped up to create "Barrettpalooza" on April 14, a day of fundraising activties for the cause.
"I feel really lucky I'm alive. I get a chance," said Barrett Smith who is waiting for a kidney transplant.
This former Kiowa County Extension Agent and current Pratt Community College agriculture instructor is juggling class schedules and kidney dialysis three days a week as he works his way towards a kidney transplant.
Friends from Kiowa County have taken action to help Smith cover the cost of the transplant. Barrettpalooza is coming April 14 to Greensburg and will feature a day full of activities that will raise money for hospital and transplant expenses.
Most Barrettpalooza activities will be at the Kiowa County Fairgrounds in Greensburg. Activities start at 9 a.m. and run throughout the day.
Activities include a 5K and 1 mile fun run at 9 a.m., single and double trap shoot at the Kiowa County Gun Club at the corner of East Grant Avenue and Cottonwood Street, a matinee showing of Smith's favorite movie "Field of Dreams" at the Twilight Theater, benefit chicken and noodle dinner at 7 p.m., raffle and live auction.
Trap shoot registration is $15 for 50 targets, $30 for 100 targets, all participants receive a meal and benefit t-shirt. Payout for most targets hit out of 100: 13 and under-flat of 12 gauge shells; ages 14-15 $50; ages 16-18 $50. Registration due March 30 with payment due at check-in. Contact Rich Hassiepen at 620-338-0032 or Wade Reh at 530-574-3935.
There is also a gofundme account and information is available on Facebook.
Smith's journey to a kidney transplant will probably involved is brother and sister that are twins. His siblings, Nathan and Shelbie, that are both blood matches for the transplant. Their next step is to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for medical evaluation to see if one or both will be an eligible donor. It's best to match with a family member if possible, Smith said.
Smith has kidney dialysis three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Pratt Regional Medical Center. Because of his teaching schedule his Monday and Wednesday dialysis sessions are cut short at only 2.5 hours. On Friday, dialysis is 4 to 4.5 hours with all sessions starting at 5 a.m.
Smith discovered his problem was with immunoglobulin A, a substance every person has and for most people, it just lies dormant in their bodies. But sometime in his life, it was probably a bacterial infection that triggered it to become active and it attacked his kidneys.
His doctor had been watching his kidney function for the last two years. He had slowly developed a variety of symptoms and finally a biopsy August 2017 revealed he needed a transplant. He went to the Mayo Clinic and they wouldn't let him leave until he had dialysis. That day, Dec. 27, 2017, was a turning point. He began to feel and look better, his color returned, various symptoms went away and he felt normal.
"I have more energy to do things," Smith said. "But its a whole life style change."
The dialysis saved his life and he is preparing for his eventual transplant that will take place at the Mayo Clinic, hopefully this summer.
Smith said he is anxious, frightened, excited and a lot of other emotions but is ready for the transplant.
When friends ask what they can to do help, he encourages them to get themselves in shape for themselves and for their family. Smith encourages others with kidney issues to seek out a doctor they can trust and go to the clinic whether the Mayo or K.U. or other clinic because people only have one life.
Smith was a Kiowa County Extension agent starting in 2012. He worked tirelessly with 4-H programs and took children to 4-H camp, sometimes quietly paying the way for some that couldn't afford to go, said friend June McFadden.
Smith was instrumental in getting fencing supplies and hay to farmers impacted by the Anderson Creek Fire and the Star Buck Fire. He has also been associated with the Twilight Theater Board, Kiowa County Fair Board and others.
"He was very active in our community, very well thought of," McFadden said.
When the new farm bill came out, Smith spent hours and hours explaining the difference between price protection and yield production about 400 times and which would be best for the individual farmers. He did a lot of education when the sugar cane aphid was a problem, said friend Pat Janssen.
He worked a lot with 4-H members, getting their 4-H clubs up and going again. He even helped sheer sheep. He also helped county commissioners determine what was needed to pave roads.
"He's just one of those guys that never misses an opportunity to help somebody," Janssen said.
When Smith was a youngster, he called Janssen and asked if he would do a wheat plot. Janssen said 'yes' and 25 varieties later, they had a wheat plot Smith wanted.
Among Smith's numerous activities during his time as Extension Agent include adding 20 new 4-H club members, increase in member participation in Kansas Youth Leadership Forum and Citizenship in Action Day in Topeka, reorganizing and restarting shooting sports program with help from Rich Hasipen, coordinating shooting sports in Barber County, working with local schools and agriculture producers to educate students on where food comes from, fourth grade day on the farm sponsored by Kiowa County NRCS, Kindergarten Day in cooperation with the Rose and Cunningham families, working with city and county government and others to create new jobs, retain jobs and improve county economy.
He has helped farmers improve farming and livestock techniques, been an advocate for positive change, improve livestock nutrition, improve irrigation, share information on crop diseases and insect issues, erosion, controlling cheat grass, wheat test plots, networking producers and Extension professionals, tree workshops, producer education, rodent control, helped with Moore, Okla. tornado victims with hay, fencing materials, labor and donations, spending countless hours of relief efforts.
On Fridays, he hosted a coffee and doughnut meeting at his office for farmers, ranchers, local business people and others.