In 2002, our founder, Rachelle, learned her mother was in need of a kidney donor to save her life after her kidney disease had progressed to end-stage renal failure. On April 12, 2005, at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Scottsdale, Rachelle's grandfather selflessly donated his kidney - giving Mindy a second chance at life, and giving a mother back to her family.
Knowing the beauty that can come from organ donation, Rachelle decided to bring public attention to the need for kidney disease education, organ donation awareness, and patient aid through the sale of a stuffed toy named MinMinBears after her mom's nickname, MinMin.
Rachelle, who was Miss Arizona United States in 2011, launched the "MinMinBear Initiative" when she shared her personal story on a public level, by telling it through these adorable, plush teddy bears. The original MinMinBear launch benefited the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona and supported public education and direct patient aid, impacting Arizonans. The Initiative was a success and the bears continued to serve in a way to raise awareness for kidney disease patients.
"I Love You With All My Kidney"
A few years later, our founder's mom began to feel sick again. In 2016, 14 years after her transplant, Mindy started having symptoms of headache, nausea, cramping. Symptoms worsened, and doctors concluded Mindy’s kidney was experiencing issues, the doctors concluded that her kidney was dumping magnesium. As her kidney function began to lessen, the magnesium dumping became worse, and her kidney was going into rejection. Her kidney function was at 19% and she would need to be listed for her second transplant.
Waiting for a kidney transplant in the US alone. With the average wait between
22 Die Daily
Every year approximately 8,000 family members die while waiting on the
When our founder, Rachelle, learned that her mom, Mindy, was in need of a second kidney transplant, she wanted to tell their family's story AND advocate for others. She revived the MinMinbears and created a social media challenge called the #minminbearchallenge to help her mom find a living kidney donor. This interactive challenge went viral and became a platform for Mindy's story while also showcasing a need for a foundation like ours. We realized we had created a way for patients to showcase how they live their best life, in spite of kidney disease, while educating the public about kidney donation.
One MinMinBear, Became Many
In 2020, we officially became The MinMinBear Foundation and registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In 2021, the foundation decided to expand the mission to tell the stories of the hundreds of thousands of people who battle kidney disease, every day. What started out as just one bear, has turned into thousands. Each bear represents a person, a story, a struggle, and a chance for hope.
AND WE are Not Done
We are working every day to Advocate for, Comfort, and Educate kidney patients and their families. Including telling Mindy's story in hopes of finding her a kidney donor. Learn more about our new bear A.C.E., and meet the inspiration behind they "why" of what we do.