‘This is a gift from the man upstairs’: Football coach will receive a kidney transplant from his nephew

CINCINNATI — There is a 20-year age difference between Darryn Chenault and his nephew, Arryn. But given their life connection — that distance may as well be only 20 yards.

Darryn and Arryn share a gift of being leaders in their families and school communities. Their conversations are intended to encourage and inspire those around them.

“He’s a force; he’s like a happy virus,” Arryn Chenault said of Darryn. “When you get around him it’s just that happiness just spreads and you just put a smile on your face.”

Darryn, 51, is the associate head football coach at Lakota East High School. Arryn, 31, a former University of Cincinnati defensive back, is the Winton Woods special teams coordinator who works with defensive backs, too.

“They’re always talking about football, talking about life,” said Kennedy Chenault, Darryn’s daughter and Arryn’s cousin. “They have a bond like no other.”

So there is no doubt that bond will strengthen on June 6. That’s when Darryn will receive a kidney transplant from Arryn at Christ Hospital.

“Man, he’s a tremendous sacrifice for me right now,” said Darryn Chenault. “And he’ll probably tell you otherwise. He’ll probably tell you I sacrificed for him. It’s just love, man.”

That love and sacrifice goes back several years, including the time when Arryn lost his father, Ed Chenault. Darryn and his family were instrumental in Arryn’s life during that time.

“When we sit down without saying it we think about his dad, my brother,” Darryn said. “And we think about all the things that he would want for us.”

So it was no surprise that Arryn woke up one morning earlier this year knowing that he was meant to help his uncle after thoughtful prayer and discussion. Darryn learned in August of his need for a donor due to chronic kidney disease.

“My dad always talked about being honorable and having good character,” Arryn said. “I can use this. This can be my testimony to my kids that I coach at Winton Woods about having character, sacrificing and just doing what’s right for the community and for your family.”

Arryn said he feels called to help Darryn at this moment in their lives.

“Honestly, it’s a blessing,” Arryn said. “It’s an honor to be a donor to your superhero.”

Those superhero powers include Darryn’s more than 20 years of law enforcement service. He’s starting his 33rd season of coaching high school football.

And he’s a co-founder of the S3C Golf Classic with Dana Parker. The golf event typically raises $12,000 every year for several charitable causes, including cancer research, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, CancerFree Kids, college scholarships and local families in need.

Even though Darryn feels tired and fatigued due to the kidney disease, his magnetic personality is ever-present. He greeted everyone at Glenview Golf Course with a warm smile and affable nature at the golf event last weekend.

“Everything that he does is at a high level,” Lakota East head football coach Jon Kitna said. “What I’ve learned about Darryn is that he’s about everybody’s success.”

It’s taken some time but Darryn has learned to be the receiver with the upcoming surgery. Even though he knows he needs a kidney, his thoughts turn toward Arryn and his family.

But with faith and confidence, Darryn and Arryn are treating June 6 like a game day. They are together as teammates.

“This is a gift from the man upstairs,” Darryn said. “This is a gift from my brother who passed away eight years ago. It’s his son. This is a gift from them. And I got to open up my heart and receive this.”

WCPO is a news partner of Cox First Media.

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