Local student a finalist in national calendar contest

Online voting open through April 14 for cover artwork

The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Henry-Vance Skyler Moats, a ninth-grader at Elkins High School, is helping to raise awareness of kidney disease. She is shown here with EHS Principal Russ Collett.

ELKINS — A local high school student has a chance to gain national recognition by having her artwork appear on the cover of a calendar produced by the American Kidney Fund, and she needs help to make that happen.

Skyler Moats, 14, of Elkins, is one of 13 finalists whose art was selected to appear in the American Kidney Fund’s 2018 calendar. The cover artist will be chosen through online voting that is underway on the website www.kidneyfund.org.

Moats was one of 50 children and teens with kidney disease from throughout the United States who submitted artwork for the annual calendar contest. If her drawing, “A Fighting Chance,” wins the most online votes in the cover contest, she will receive a free trip to Washington, D.C., to be recognized during the American Kidney Fund’s annual fall gala, called The Hope Affair.

Moats said she hopes her artwork raises awareness about kidney disease, while also inspiring others — especially other patients fighting kidney disease.

“I wanted to let them know there is hope, and they are strong. They can get through it,” she said.

Moats was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was in fifth grade. She first experienced back pain, and she was sent to a specialist after having blood drawn at a local clinic.

She is now in stage 4 kidney failure, and she is a patient of Dr. Oulimata Grossman, a Morgantown physician who specializes in pediatric nephrology. Moats also is working with specialists at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and she has a pre-transplant evaluation appointment set for April 19.

“I want to tell people who have kidney disease that you can’t let it get you down. You can’t worry about what’s going to happen. You just have to do what you need to do to get through it,” she said, whether that means having dialysis or trying to get a transplant. “It’s that way with pretty much any disease. But with me and my kidney disease, it gets hard sometimes but you just have to remember to keep going.”

Elkins High School Principal Russ Collett said it’s wonderful that Moats is helping to raise awareness for kidney patients.

“We think this is a great cause,” Collett said Thursday. “We look forward to her healing, and the kids and staff are all supporting her. We’re really proud that she’s doing this.”

Moats and her sisters, 11-year-old Kayla and 5-year-old Lily, live with their grandmother, Linda Bozic.

The ninth-grader said she enjoys school, and her hobbies include learning to play the guitar and ukulele, as well as spending time outdoors.

LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund, said in a news release that the artwork submissions by Moats and others in the contest make a big impact.

“Every year we are so inspired by the creative submissions we receive for our annual Calendar Kids Art Contest,” Burton said. “In the face of serious health challenges, Skyler and her fellow artists produce beautiful artwork that will inspire people all year long. It is our honor to feature these drawings in our national calendar.”

Since 1995, the American Kidney Fund has conducted its Calendar Kids Art Contest for young artists who are living with kidney disease. The program provides an opportunity for pediatric kidney patients to express themselves through artwork and to receive national recognition while increasing awareness of kidney disease throughout the United States.

More than 4,500 people voted to select last year’s winner, according to information from a news release. Anyone interested in supporting Moats and voting for her drawing can visit www.KidneyFund.org/contest.


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