From backyard throwing sessions with her twin sister to advice from her softball coaches and parents, 10-year-old Adelyn Chamberlain is prepared to throw out the ceremonial first pitch 11 a.m. Saturday at Kenton Ridge High School.
“I kind of know how to pitch,” said Chamberlain, who will be the guest of honor at KR’s charity fund-raising softball game against the Centerville Elks. “My gym teacher was helping me with pitching. I was pitching to one of my friends, Evan, and I couldn’t really get my aim. It was off. It was either too far left or too far right or too high.”
Added twin sister Alexis: “I don’t know if it’s going to be a strike.”
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Whether Adelyn’s pitch to Alexis crosses the plate isn’t important. Her parents, Dara (Dement) and Keegan Chamberlain are grateful she has the chance. Complications during birth caused Adelyn to lose the function of both kidneys. She did 12 hours of dialysis every night until the age of three, when she reached the age and size needed for a transplant. That’s when her father, Keegan, donated one of his kidneys to his daughter.
So when Kenton Ridge softball coach Sarah Schalnat contacted Dara, her close friend and former KR classmate, about participating in the charity event the Chamberlain’s gladly accepted.
Proceeds from the charity game benefit Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where Adelyn had her transplant and still receives check-ups and treatments.
“We’re very thankful for this opportunity to support Cincinnati Children’s and offer this charitable event to help other families,” said Dara, a 1998 Kenton Ridge graduate. “We are so grateful for Cincinnati Children’s for the health of our child. We’re happy we could give back.”
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There are 95,131 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The National Kidney Foundation estimates the average wait is 3-5 years.
Both Dara and Keegan were tested to see if they were a match for Adelyn. Dara said six indicators are looked for in finding matches and parents typically score a 1 or 2. Keegan hit on five of the six indicators.
“Our agreement was whoever was the better donor would get to do it. He was very happy,” said Dara, who scored a 3. “They were quite surprised. They said parents were typically a 1-2 indicator match. To be a five out of six is very uncommon. They said it was almost a perfect match.
“She’s doing great. So far everything has been really good.”
Adelyn’s height – she’s about four inches shorter than twin sister Alexis – is the only difference between the two siblings. The twins also have a brother, Kael, 6, and a sister, Kowynn, 4.
“She’s almost tall enough to ride the roller coasters at Kings Island is how she describes it,” Dara said. “That’s pretty much how all our height checks are based on (these days). … As for now if you didn’t know she had a kidney transplant, you wouldn’t know. She does everything a typical kid of her age would do. There’s nothing holding her back now.”
And that includes Saturday. Adelyn, who has been playing softball since she was five, said she’s not nervous about that ceremonial first pitch. She’s been practicing in the yard with Alexis, who will be behind the plate Saturday to catch her pitch.
“No, not really because I’ve been playing softball so I kind of know how to pitch from my mom and my dad,” Adelyn said.
It’s fitting Adelyn is the guest for the charity game since April is National Donate Life Month. Though both sisters admit they do fight from time to time – “ Yeah, we usually get along when we’re in public … it’s just when we’re at home,” Alexis said – the benefits of having a twin are great.
“The best thing about having a twin is you can share your life with them.” Adelyn said.
“The best thing about having a twin is you can trust her and she’s always there for you,” Alexis said.