FOR SHAREN TREMBATH, the revelation came one Easter
As was their usual custom, the Trembath family— Sharen, her husband,
Jim, and their three children, Jenna, Jim Jr., and Jeff—were taking a walk down
the sandy beach
of Lake Erie near their home
in Angola, New York.
Sharen spotted it first: a
dialysis bag. A trained medical assistant, the then- 40-year-old mom knew what
she was seeing bobbing in the rippling waves that brushed the pebbly shoreline.
Seeing medical waste on the beach bothered Sharen. But what frustrated her even
more was the fact that the bag was not the first one she had seen in walks with
her kids along Lake Erie.
“I had already found
19 bags. The 20th was the one that pushed me over the edge,” recalls Sharen,
now 66, her blue-green eyes alive at the memory.
“All the tubes were there on
that bag—everything. And I was mad. I kicked the bag into the water. My son said,
‘Mom, what are you doing?’ I said, ‘Nobody cares.’ And he said, ‘We do.’”
moment, in the spring of 1985, changed Sharen’s life. It certainly changed her
community in upstate New York.
It also changed the health and cleanliness of this corner of the Great Lakes region.