Charlie Shivley knows all too well the link between diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD): diabetes has left him blind, an amputee, in a wheelchair and on dialysis for the past 10 years. “Silly me, I didn’t take it very seriously,” he says. “I continued to do all the things I did without taking my insulin.”

Speaking up

The former skydiver and active outdoorsman now channels his energy into raising awareness of kidney disease in his community, San Antonio, with his wife Sherrie, and advocating for kidney disease education and prevention.

"Charlie advises anyone with diabetes to keep it under control and to get regular check ups."

As members of the American Kidney Fund’s Advocacy Network, Charlie and Sherrie have traveled to Washington to meet with their Congressional representatives to educate them about kidney disease and how legislation and policy affect patients. By sharing their stories—Charlie as a patient, and Sherrie as a caregiver and family member living with CKD herself—they hope to increase understanding of the disease and put the spotlight on prevention.

“Kidney disease is a terrible disease,” Charlie says. “It’s important for people to get educated and screened if they are at risk.”

Word to the wise

“We feel it’s our responsibility to get the word out,” adds Sherrie.

Charlie advises anyone with diabetes to keep it under control and to get regular check ups. “Have your doctor do a kidney test on you,” he says. “It’s important that you get checked out and make sure everything is OK.”