Jamie Griswold Stamm has a big weekend coming up, but it’s not just because she’ll celebrate her 32nd birthday Sunday.
On Saturday, Jamie – The Herald’s Community Editor – will take part in the annual “Walk for PKD” in Raleigh. PKD, or polycystic kidney disease, is a genetic disorder that has no cure. Jamie and several generations of her family have suffered with PKD, a life-threatening disease affecting more than 600,000 Americans and an estimated 12.5 million people worldwide. (PKD, in fact, affects more people than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, Down syndrome and sickle cell anemia combined.)
“Polycystic” refers to the multiple cysts that form on the kidneys of PKD sufferers. Over time, the cysts grow and multiply and increase the mass of the kidney. Ultimately, diseased kidney shuts down.
Jamie’s grandmother and mother both had severe enough cases of the disease that it required kidney transplants. Her grandmother died shortly after her transplant, but thankfully Jamie’s mom is doing well almost a year and a half after her transplant. (Jamie’s own cysts aren’t growing and otherwise she’s in good health, especially now that our redesign project is over.)
When she’s not helping raise money for the PKD Foundation or promoting another passion – organ donation – Jamie stays busy putting together what we used to refer to in our industry as the “lifestyle” pages you see in The Herald. Today that’s arts, entertainment, food, weddings and engagements, travel and more.
In addition, Jamie’s a gifted writer who happens to be married to a man who loves, like her, to cook and otherwise perform food/culinary experiments in the kitchen. (The column they write together, “Dining In” has been a big hit. Plus Jerry also writes a bit – if you missed his piece last week about do-it-yourself sushi, you really need to go back and check it out.)
A native of Pennsylvania, Jamie came to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1993 after being valedictorian at Pottstown High School there. She emerged four years later with a degree from Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications and soon found herself working in the marketing department of The Winston-Salem Journal.
She didn’t stay long: she was recruited to come to The Herald as an education reporter, and before long made the switch to “the desk,” working in the position that at the time was called “Lifestyles Editor.”
She spends most of her time putting together pages.
“But I’ve also been happy to return to writing feature stories this year,” she says. “I enjoy layout, but writing is my first love because I get the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people and then share their stories with our readers.”
Jamie says she loves the “small town” atmosphere, as well as the “regulars” with whom she interacts.
“And I truly love the people whom I work with,” she says. “Our newsroom is full of men and women who can have fun, yet be amazingly professional at the same time.”
She’s a Tar Heel fan, of course, but also considers herself a hockey “convert” and follows the progress of the Carolina Hurricanes, catching games in person when she and Jerry can.
That’s not as often as it used to be, even though daughter Cera, 4, and Anthony, almost 2, are probably used to mom and dad watching the Canes on television.
But unless she’s busy working on a special section or pages for an early section of the newspaper, you won’t catch Jamie sitting still for long.
And this weekend, unless you’re at the Walk for PKD, you probably won’t catch her at all.
Happy birthday, Jamie!