Summer Membership Drive: On Being Thankful

Jesse Sykes in pledge room

by Leesa Schandel, Director of Development

Did I mention that I have a kidney transplant? Well, I do. My sister gave me a piece of her body nearly five years ago. If anything has taught me humility and gratitude, it’s that.

Before I had my transplant, I was very ill, as you can imagine. I was really, really sick. When some people have kidney failure, they don’t see colors as well, or they can’t taste as well, or they can’t smell as well. I didn’t enjoy music as much. It was like a part of me was missing… it was like a central part of me had gone away. It sucked.

After Celeste passed along her kidney, I realized that instead of talk shows, I was craving music! Lots of music! New music! Salvation!

I needed to listen to John in the Morning and Best Ambiance and Roadhouse for the first time in several years. My life was rich again… I discovered The Frames and Kinky and bought their records and put them in my disc man (I’m a Luddite), and I would go on daily walks with them (dr’s orders). At one point, I even put on a U2 album in my earphones and listened to it while I was under the knife!

When you almost pass into the great beyond, and then you come back with a vengeance, you realize that you must always act on your convictions. Always. You never know if you have any days left, even when you’re the picture of health.

I truly believe that Celeste and KEXP saved my life. They got me through the unthinkable. That’s why I thank KEXP and Celeste every year. Celeste and I share a 4-star dinner and a killer bottle of wine on our kidney anniversary. I thank KEXP by working my patooty off here and by making my own gifts to the station. I’ve never made such generous gifts in my life, but they are only a speck of nothing compared to what Celeste and KEXP have done for me.

During drives, these feelings are close to the surface. They make me hyper-grateful to everyone who participates in the drives. I just know that many, many of the people who volunteer during the week, who make gifts, who go on the air to ask for your support, and who write in with inspiring messages during the drives have similar stories or feelings. Music has that kind of power. It just does.

We’re going to wrap this bad boy up on Friday! I’ll miss everyone and all the stories and all the fun. But, I’ll spend the next several weeks being thankful that so many people share the same convictions and keep this non-profit music resource alive and well!

Thanks for supporting non-profit, listener-powered, totally awesome, life-saving KEXP!

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  1. Kim, your new (old) neighbor
    Posted June 7, 2008 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Wisdom exudes from your words. I could tell there is something special about you. . .not little-yellow-bus special, by the way. . . .and I’m going to guess that you were JUST as thoughtful and wise BEFORE that surgery, too. It is a wonderful blessing when your eyes are opened wide and life becomes more gratifying, adventurous and FUN.

    Thanks for always remembering me!

  2. Laura Poellet
    Posted June 7, 2008 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    wow, that is an amazing story! hey, Leesa, I saw your name on a pledge drive email and that was a blast from the past! you and I worked together at the AANP several years ago (I think it was in ’99 – yikes, that is the last century…) – you have a much cooler job now! anyhow, it was a nice surprise to learn that you are part of the team behind the coolest radio station on the planet. I hope all is well, sounds like it is!

    Laura Poellet

  3. Cheryl Wilson
    Posted June 12, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Leesa – what a wonderful thing for you to share such a personal story with the KEXP community. You rock (but you already knew we felt that way about you!). Big hug from the other cherylw :)

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