BALLSTON LAKE, N.Y. Kim Marie (Benzin) Healy of Ballston Lake, a passionate advocate and inspiration for people dealing with chronic disease, died on January 28, 2006. Diagnosed with diabetes at the age of nine, Kim's calling in life was advocating for and educating people about managing their healthcare and improving their quality of life. She referred to people with chronic disease as consumers rather than patients and inspired them to be knowledgeable about and in control of their healthcare. Her mantra to consumers was that you are the captain of your healthcare team, if you choose. Choice is the key. Kim, diagnosed in 1986 with end stage renal disease as a result of her diabetes, was a volunteer and board member with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Western New York from 1990-95. Her work there included establishing and chairing the patient and community services committee and advocating for organ donation legislation, which eventually led to the NYS Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. The NKF of WNY honored her with their Gift of Life Award in 1996. Upon relocating to the Capital District in 1996, Kim became active with the National Kidney Foundation of Northeastern New York, ultimately becoming chair of the board in 2002. She worked tirelessly to strengthen the chapter and increase the impact it had on people's lives. In 2005, the chapter presented her with their Board of Directors Award for her dedicated volunteerism and advocacy work on behalf of the people they serve. In addition to her NKF work, Kim served on the executive committee of the End Stage Renal Disease Network of New York State, as well as their medical review board and as chair of the patient advisory council committee for Albany and Upper Hudson Valley. Most recently, Kim was named to the community advisory board for the Prevention Research Center at the University of Albany. Kim was also a member of the board of directors of the Adirondack Area Network. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Kim was raised in Cheektowaga and graduated from Maryvale High School. Later, she earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Buffalo State College. More than anything, the strength and grace with which Kim went about her life was an inspiration to all who know her. Kim's life will continue to inspire her husband Jim, her best friend and true love for 22 years; her siblings, Rick Benzin, Linda Dougherty and Keith Benzin (who gave Kim his own gift of life when he donated a kidney to her in 1997); her nieces and nephews, who she loved so dearly; and the many other family members, friends and colleagues whose lives are better for knowing her. The family is planning a celebration of Kim's life to be held this spring. A memorial fund has been established in Kim's name at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 6 Greenwood Drive, East Greenbush, N.Y. 12061, to aid the fight in eradicating this tenacious and debilitating disease. I thank God for giving us the choice of being strong and able to move through life with much love and grace in our hearts. -- Kim Healy
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Published in Albany Times Union on Feb. 19, 2006.