Nathan Koval may only be 13 years old, but he has definite ideas about where he’s going. He wants to be a chef like his dad.
He speaks with confidence and delights in sharing his experience at the Bonne Sante fundraising event where he participated and helped to raise $93,000 to benefit the National Kidney Foundation.
“I got to go and cook with my dad,” Nathan said. “It makes me realize that I am special. The money goes to the Kidney Foundation to find new stuff to help people.”
The food and wine showcase was organized by Nathan’s father, William Koval, executive chef at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, and Scott Gottlich, executive chef at Bijoux Restaurant, also in Dallas.
Kidney disease has touched the lives of both men. Nathan was born with one kidney and suffers from polycystic kidney disease and Gottlich’s sister underwent a kidney transplant in 2009.
The National Kidney Foundation joined the effort to present the inaugural event on Feb. 17 at The Westin Galleria, which boasted 16 accomplished chefs who donated their talent and food.
“The money will go toward transplants and Camp Reynal through Children’s Hospital for children with kidney disease,” said Pamilee Koval, Nathan’s mother. “I think one day, when he needs a kidney, this will help him. He only has one and it is diseased. So we try to do as much as we can.”
Nathan is a sixth-grader at Walnut Grove Middle School.
“Middle school is good – I get to be with my friends and I love all my teachers,” Nathan said. “Basically I’m friends with everybody. All the teachers love me.”
Nathan’s kidney disease was diagnosed after he fell off the monkey bars in kindergarten. The nurse called his mom and said he seemed all right, but she might go ahead and pick him up. Later that evening, he began having urinary symptoms and after tests at the local hospital revealed that he had only one kidney and the polycystic condition, he was referred to Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
“Anything that happens to your child is a tragedy – you just stay on your knees praying,” Pamilee said. “His right kidney never formed and his left kidney is polycystic. We see other kids with so many other problems and Nathan is doing so well.”
Nathan has attended Camp Reynal for the past five years and is looking forward to going again this summer and reconnecting with the friends he has made there. He has participated in other fundraising and awareness events including modeling in a runway walk, a golf tournament, the Adolphus Parade and he even threw out the first ball at a Rangers game. Pamilee said they never say no to events or anytime they can help.
In addition to cooking with his dad at the recent fundraiser, Nathan said he got to meet a lot of people and thanked them all for their hard work to make the evening a success.
“They said they were glad I came and really meant it,” he said. “I love my life. I get to meet awesome people. I get to do a lot of stuff. I have a lot of friends. And my family loves me.”
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