Hundreds came out in extreme cold and very windy conditions at "BarrettPalooza" on April 14 to support Barrett Smith, a former Kiowa County Extension Agent, who needs a kidney transplant.

True friendship knows no boundaries. Friends of Barrett Smith didn't let bitter cold and howling Kansas winds, some gusts hit 80 mph, prevent them from coming together to raise funds for a kidney transplant for Smith who was an Extension Agent in Kiowa County and is currently an instructor in the agriculture department at Pratt Community College.

Barrettpalooza was held on April 14 in Greensburg and featured trap shooting, a 5K and a fun run, a showing of "Field of Dreams" (Smith's favorite movie) at the Twilight Theatre and homemade chicken and noodles.

The bitter cold and strong wind didn't prevent the trap shooting event outdoors but the 5K and fun run were moved inside the Kiowa County High School gym for comfort for runners, Smith said.

Smith started the day by taking the first shot at the trap shoot. He hit the clay pigeon from 20 yards and decided he was done but everyone else went ahead and shot outdoors.

The fact that people came, perhaps as many as 500 during the day, in spite of the bad weather to support Smith was a testimony to their friendship. Some friends, including some from Yuma, Colo. had to deal with blizzard conditions and were not able to attend but so many others came to support Smith.

"I was just amazed to see all these people come (to the event)," Smith said. "I and my family are totally blessed. I have more friends than I realize. I was just amazed and feel blessed. I cried. I didn't realize I had such a big impact on so many people."

Smith faces more dialysis as he waits for his kidney transplant. The next step in the process is for his siblings, Nathan and Shelbie, who are 28-year-old twins, to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn to get tested for compatibility for the transplant. The surgery will be held at the clinic once a match has been set. Shelbie is scheduled to go to the clinic in April and Nathan is scheduled in June. They will meet with the team of surgeons who will determine who is the best match for the surgery. Once a match has been established, a day for the surgery will be set.

There is a two week recovery time after the surgery. Smith and his donor will spend their recovery time at either a Mennonite, Catholic or Lutheran recovery house at a reduced cost. Each will have a separate care giver to stay with them during the recovery time.

Smith has hit his body mass goal and is more than ready to get the surgery to get on with the next phase of his life.

This has been an overwhelming experience for Smith, especially the response to Barrettpalooza and the support for him and his family.

"The Smith family wants to say 'thank you' for everything. We feel extremely blessed to have as many friends in the community and state as we do," Smith said. "Thanks to everybody who needs thanks."

@GaleR_Tribune