Darvece’s Front Row Experience: George Lopez Comedy Tour
The minute you meet Darvece you know right away that you are going to be inspired. She’s smart, talented, beautiful, and has an energy that is contagious. She may be little in stature, but this woman is a warrior with an incredible smile and an attitude of gratefulness that is remarkable. As a former nurse, she has a huge heart for supporting others and through her trial and tribulations with her own health challenges started her own charity, More Than Your Kidneys, to support, educate, and advocate for those challenged with kidney disease.
Darvece and her fiancé, Tony, as well as her daughter, Surrey live in Chicago and enjoy being active, traveling, and creating lasting memories together.
In May, 2015, Darvece was traveling with Tony to Las Vegas where he was going to propose to her and she was not feeling well at all. She spent most of the time in her hotel room feeling very run down and having a tough time. She returned home and went straight to her doctor. Tests revealed that she was in End-Stage Renal Failure, which was obviously a huge shock. At the time, she was working as a nurse and was used to caring for others including her daughter who was only 6 years-old. The thought of the grueling treatment regimen of going to dialysis 3-4 times a week for 6 hours at a time hooked up to a machine cleaning her blood was unfathomable initially.
Darvece used the diagnosis and extremely difficult situation and turned it into an opportunity to once again serve others by starting a charity. Although she has had to quit her job, her devotion to her charity along with Tony and Surrey’s love and support keeps her going often at warp speed.
To be considered for a kidney transplant, you must be infection free and in the best of health overall. Darvece’s medication, wellness maintenance, and daily regimen consists of multiple vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, meditation, and journaling. Darvece has taken it a step further by homeopathically maintaining PERFECT lab results, weaning herself off of 14 medications, and maintaining a predominantly vegetarian-vegan diet, and even bikes during her dialysis sessions.
Her doctors are amazed when they look at her blood work and she is only in the dialysis chair for about 4 hours during her sessions. She has been highlighted in Ebony Magazine, honored by the National Kidney Foundation, interviewed as a guest on multiple mornings shows and podcasts, and the list goes on and on. This is all a testament to her dedication to her cause and her ability to connect to people on a very deep and authentic level.
“Determined” could Darvece’s middle name. Throughout all of her health challenges she remains optimistic and hopeful that her time will come and she will receive a kidney. She has a strong faith and an inner circle of support that won’t let her get down and hold her accountable to be the best she can be. Darvece truly believes that every single day is a gift and that she’s never backing down from this fight for herself and for all the others she advocates for who have kidney disease.
In August, 2016, Darvece completed an application online to receive a Front Row Experience. Our Application Committee was especially struck by her honesty and the vulnerability she showed by nominating herself and telling her story like no one else could. Darvece is a huge fan of George Lopez, not only because he is her favorite comedian, but also because he is a kidney transplant recipient and advocate as well. Having started his own foundation, that also creates awareness about kidney disease and organ donation, Darvece was inspired by his commitment to give back and educate others. George has been a huge inspiration to Darvece in so many ways and through her application it was an easy decision for the Committee to award her the Front Row Experience of a lifetime to see George Lopez on tour.
Once the determination was made, our team called Darvece via Skype and pretended the reason for the call was to get a little more information for the Application Committee before an official decision could be made on the status of her application. Darvece is not someone who is easily surprised so when our team broke the news to her, her response was heart felt and had everyone shedding a tear.
Darvece’s Front Row Experience involved multiple modes of transportation to make her dream come true. On Oct. 27 she and Tony hopped in a limousine at their home in Chicago to fly from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Philadelphia. Everything went smoothly traveling and our team met her in Philadelphia to give her hugs and send her on her way to the well known Kimball Monaco Hotel in downtown Philadelphia.
That night Darvece and Tony walked around the area near the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat, and checked out the Monaco’s outside hotel bar on the top floor before falling into bed tired, happy, and excited for the next day.
The next morning, the Front Row team arrived to Darvece and Tony’s hotel room to interview them and take some pictures. They are an amazing couple whose support of each other is something to be admired. The Front Row Team was blown away by their wisdom, vulnerability, and optimism regarding Darvece’s journey. Darvece was super grateful for the gifts and the amazing shawl that one of our supporters crocheted especially for her.
Next was lunch, which was a short walk a few blocks away at Morimoto, which is the place to go in Philadelphia if you are a sushi connoisseur. Darvece and Tony love sushi and enjoyed educating and making fun of the Front Row Team that wasn’t so well versed in the world of sushi. This is where we also found out about Darvece’s incredible talent of “freestyling”, which is also known as spoken word improv style. Off the top of her head she is able to create poetry on any theme on cue, which she shared with us a few times throughout her Front Row Experience.
After lunch there was a surprise send off attended by Theresa Casey and Janine Eidenberg, the wife and sister of Chris Casey, who was also a Front Row Recipient. Janine gave Darvece a framed photograph of all the people who participated in the Polar Plunge in honor of Chris. She was very touched by the gesture and felt super special that people she didn’t even know were aware of her story and journey.
The large, black stretch limousine for 8 was perfect for 5 and we all enjoyed the two hour drive to Bethlehem, PA. The group finished dessert from lunch and savored a glass of wine in specially made wine glasses for Darvece. There was a lot of traffic so Darvece and Tony had plenty of time to share more about Darvece’s journey, their families, and their plans for the future. We enjoyed getting to know each other better and learning more about this amazing couple.
Before the show, we planned to have a brief stop for appetizers and a wine tasting at a well-known quaint restaurant near the venue, Bolete. There was sharing of cheese and fruit plates and everyone enjoyed an incredible lobster bisque. The Front Row team also had another surprise. One of our long time supporters, Adam Stock, recorded a video and shared with Darvece that not only would she be going to the George Lopez Comedy Show, but she was also going to be meeting him at the Meet & Greet after his performance. Darvece was actually speechless, which we understand from Tony is not an easy thing to do. The group was also especially grateful since the Chef took care of the check so we all went to the kitchen and thanked him.
The group hopped back in the limousine and the excitement grew during the short drive to the Sands Event Center. Since there was a “no camera policy” for the show, we made the most of our time shooting some video footage and pictures outside and inside the Event Center lobby. After purchasing a shirt for Darvece, we made our way to the actual first row just a few feet from the stage. Darvece couldn’t believe we were actually sitting Front Row and was giddy with excitement for the show to begin.
The opening act and George Lopez were incredibly funny and everyone enjoyed laughing and giggling for the next hour and a half. It was time for the Meet & Greet and it was no surprise that the line started with Darvece. She made the most of her short time with George chatting with him about his charity and her charity and shared a bit about her story.
Then it was the Front Row Team’s turn to take pictures with George and we made a plea for him to spend more time with her after the Meet & Greet. He conceded and sent us to talk to his security team. After sharing her story with multiple people on his security team, we were all ushered back stage to one of his waiting rooms. George’s team allowed us to get another team member who was waiting for us outside the theatre. When we returned, George walked in and instantly connected with Darvece. They spoke for twenty minutes talking about various issues related to dialysis, education, kidney transplantation, and his journey since receiving his kidney from a loved one. Darvece was in her element discussing her plans for her charity and how she was making a difference in her community. George also shared information with her to connect to people within his charity for support and guidance. George was so humble, helpful, and understanding of Darvece’s challenges, just as she had imagined he would be. After signing her Meet & Greet badge, he gave her a huge hug and said that he would make sure they kept in touch.
After leaving the backstage area, Darvece was amazed at what had just happened. She couldn’t believe that George had spent that much time with her and that he was actually interested in helping her and her charity. Her thank you video to Adam Stock, Casey family and friends, Sylvain LaPointe, and the Front Row Community in general was heartfelt and sincere. She couldn’t have imagined her Front Row Experience could’ve been any better.
On the ride back to Philadelphia, Darvece was texting, calling, and sharing everything that had happened during her exciting day with family, friends, and her community of supporters back home and on social media. On the fly Darvece showed her talent for free styling once again about her amazing day and what living a life in the front row had grown to mean to her. It was a relaxing drive back to the Hotel Monaco and she and Tony were extremely grateful for our team planning such a special day for her.
You have forever changed my life in meeting you. Not only are you smart, talented, and beautiful, but you have used your diagnosis to start a charity to educate, advocate, and change people’s lives. You are a humble servant whose dedication, heart, and perseverance will no doubt shed a beam of hope for the ESRD patients you support and you will bring awareness to the importance of organ donation as force for change. I’m grateful for your feisty spirit, your optimism, and will forever be cheering you on in the Front Row.
Your Front Row Fan,
My life has forever changed since I met you. You are fierce, strong, stylish, and super cool. I am glad that we will be forever friends and I can’t wait to watch your journey unfold. Keep living life in the front row and know that I will always be in your front row, cheering you on!