Fundraiser aids Pel Bay girl’s fight against rare kidney disease

A fundraiser event will be held on Sunday, November 8 to help support brave Juvenile Nephronophthisis survivor, Katrina Sonnick; her living donor father, Steven and her family during these difficult times.
Photo courtesy of Meghan Sonnick

A Pelham Bay family hopes people will open their hearts to help their daughter receive a lifesaving kidney transplant.

The family of 13-year-old Pelham Bay resident, Katrina Sonnick, are holding a fundraiser to support their daughter and her living donor father, Steven to help her combat a very rare disease.

At age six, Sonnick was diagnosed with Juvenile Nephronophthisis, a very rare kidney disease peaking at age 13.

Only nine cases are diagnosed for every 8.3 million people and it is described as a chronic, progressive disease with no cure, with the only treatment being a kidney transplant.

‘A Kidney for Katrina’ will be held on Sunday, November 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Samuel H. Young American Legion Post 620 located at 1530 Hutchinson River Parkway.

Best described as a day of family fun, the event is open to all and features face painting, balloon twisting, arts and crafts projects for Thanksgiving and Christmas, bean bag toss games, music, refreshments, a bouncy castle courtesy of Frank Bee’s, a bake sale, children’s book sales and raffles prizes.

Tickets for activities will be sold on-site.

Prizes up for grabs include gift certificates from Jimmy Ryans and McDermott’s Bar, New York Botanical Garden family memberships, New York Museum of Science family memberships, Fun Crafts gift certificates for a birthday party for up to 15 participants and an autographed photograph of legendary New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter taken after his historic 3,000th hit.

Katrina and her family are incredibly thankful to all of their friends, family, neighbors and community for their help and support in raising $8,885 in this fundraising campaign which launched last week.

“During this difficult time, our family has been shown such generosity and kindness from so many people,” said Meghan Sonnick, Katrina’s mother adding. “For the majority of my childhood I grew up in Yonkers, but my mother taught in P.S. 71 and P.S. 72 and many of my childhood days were spent here. I can remember always seeing friends and families here rally around each other in times of need, whether it be helping an elderly neighbor or keeping the neighborhood clean. After seeing all the support and kindness that has been shown to our family over the past two weeks, it’s so nice to see that some things don’t change. Katrina is a fighter and having her dad be a match and able to be her donor is an absolute miracle, so I know we will be able to get through this.”

According to Meghan, Katrina was leading a normal life as any 13-year old girl participating in cheer leading, dance and listening to Taylor Swift when she started feeling exhausted and was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

This summer Sonnick’s kidney function numbers dropped suddenly, which meant her anti-rejection medication was no longer effective in treating her condition and a kidney transplant was necessary.

After extensive testing was conducted, Sonnick’s father, Steven, was determined by doctors to be a perfect donor for his daughter’s transplant surgery.

The brave pair will go under the knife at Boston Children’s Hospital on Thursday, November 12 and the Sonnick family composed of Meghan; Steven; Katrina and her three-year old brother, Damian will need to relocate to the ‘City on the Hill’ for about two to three months.

Sonnick’s father will be unable to work for at least three months while he recuperates.

“I’m relieved that I can help my daughter and I hope we can all get pass this,” said Steven. “I want my healthy girl back and any parent would do anything to help their child. Katrina is very excited for it because as her condition is now she can’t eat any dairy or protein and she’s looking forward to enjoying an actual meal this Thanksgiving. I want to thank everyone for all of their generosity and support during this time and hope people will gain more knowledge on this condition during the fundraiser.”

The funds raised will be used to offset travel expenses and the mandatory lifelong anti-rejection medications Sonnick will require for her treatment.

If interested in donating to this worthy cause, visit

(l-r) Meghan, Steven, Katrina and Damian Sonnick during a visit to the Bronx Zoo.
Photo courtesy of Meghan Sonnick

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