10 Acts of Kindness

It’s funny how some moments seem hard to recall and then others have been embedded in our minds forever. I’ll never forget hugging my kidney transplant donor, Sally, on August 13, 2002 before they wheeled her off to the operating room. We held on to each other tightly with mixed emotions of hope and nervousness. That morning was full of excitement of the unknown. Wondering how my body would accept this gift and how our lives would be changed. The past 10 years have been so beautiful. This past Monday I honored my kidney donor by doing 10 acts of kindness, one for each amazing year of life she has given me.

I had a nonstop smile on this monumental day and my heart was overflowing with joy. With transplant having 10 letters, it seemed fitting to use that as the acronym for my 10 acts of kindness.

Here is a glimpse at my kindness adventures…

Thank my phlebotomist for being the best and give him a signed copy of my biography

I am very difficult to get blood from. My veins are tiny and they roll. I only have one good vein and it has so much scar tissue because of how many times it has been used. My current phlebotomist, Matt, is the best person I have ever had draw my blood. Knowing that I am not going to have any issues when I go to my monthly blood work is a huge weight off of my shoulders and he deserved to be recognized. I thanked him for his hard work and gave him a signed copy of my biography.

 

Reach out to a family at the American River and pay for their parking pass

The confluence at the American River is five minutes from where we live and we hike there a lot. Noah and I went down to the self-pay box and pulled out 10 parking fee envelopes. I put $10 in the 10th envelope along with a note and put all of them back in the slot. I wish I could see the person and their reaction when they fill out the front of the envelope and open it up to put their money in and see my note and $10. But that is all part of the fun; not knowing whose day this will impact.

 

An extra big tip to a wait staff in a restaurant during our anniversary dinner celebration

Noah and I ate at one of our favorite restaurants in Auburn, Tre Pazzi. We gave our waitress an extra big tip and it was really fun and felt good to do that. I hope she enjoys it and does something fun.

 

Nephrologist appreciation: stopped by to thank the entire team with some homemade goodies

My nephrologist, transplant coordinator and the office staff are wonderful. It was so great to stop in and celebrate my 10-year anniversary with them and they were very excited to receive my homemade goodies. I wanted them to know how great they are. Dr. Bhat, my nephrologist, said, “I look forward to seeing what you do to celebrate your 20th anniversary.” This put a huge smile on my face.

 

Stop by Sierra Donors Services and thank them with homemade pink donor dot cupcakes

This was such a fun stop for me. The energy at Sierra Donor Services is fabulous and had such a delightful visit. Everyone there was super excited it was my 10-year anniversary and loved the pink donor dot cupcakes. They gathered all of the staff together and we took some fun shots with the cupcakes. This visit was full of smiles and laughs.

 

Pay it forward

I went through the Starbucks drive thru and paid the bill for the people in the car behind me. The sun put a glare on their windshield and I was unable to see the people in the car. There were 3 drinks on the tab and I hope this act of kindness made them happy. I felt happy doing this, not knowing who received this act of kindness.

 

Let the staff at the Auburn Police Station know how much I appreciate them putting the donor dot sticker on their cop cars by personally thanking them and giving them homemade chocolate chip cookies

Yet another great visit. Linda at the Auburn Police Station was so nice and welcoming. I gave them homemade cupcakes and cookies and we took some fun photos by their cop cars. She called me the day after to let me know that everyone there really enjoyed the treats and said they were so good. Also, that the tins the cupcakes were in made for great hats for the police officers later that sunny day which, she joked, were much needed.

 

Ask someone interested in signing up to be an organ donor if I can help him or her register

A co-worker of mine, Patrick, read my biography and said that he never really thought about it before but he thinks he would like to be an organ donor. So, I asked if he would be interested in registering on my 10-year anniversary, and he happily agreed. This was such a great moment to share with him.

 

Notify my transplant surgeon of the momentous day and thank him for taking the risk to transplant me and playing a huge part in saving my life

I called my transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Montgomery at Johns Hopkins, and talked to him on the phone. It was so wonderful to hear his voice and share memories that we have endured together. Hard for both of us to believe it has been 10 years. I was too sick to be put on the waiting list but needed a kidney to survive. Dr. Montgomery stepped forward and said that I needed a transplant to survive and took the risk and did the operation. That is what I needed to restore my health.

 

Ten pink roses to a stranger

I went into the DaVita Dialysis Center and introduced myself to the nurse and told her my story and why I was there. I asked if there was someone getting dialysis that doesn’t get visitors often and/or needed some inspiration. She introduced me to Rhonda and I gave her 10 pink roses and visited her for an hour while she was getting dialysis done. She made me cry when she told me that “God kept you here for a reason and it is so wonderful that you are doing what he had planned for you.” This was very rewarding and brought back a lot of memories. I was so thankful to walk out of the facility with a healthy kidney.

I shared with my kidney donor the random acts of kindness I was doing in her honor. She said she was so proud of me. I mailed a special present and anniversary card to her, as she lives in Pennsylvania. We talked on the phone on our momentous anniversary and it was so wonderful to hear her sweet voice. I told her how much I love her and appreciate her gift. I wish I could have given her a big hug.

It was so rewarding to spend the afternoon running around and doing acts of kindness for others. I wish I could make a living doing this, every day. It was a day I will always treasure.

What kind of random acts of kindness have you done, or someone has done for you – and what can you do today for someone to make their day?

 

26 Comments

  1. Kitty Kamm

    Absolutely awesome!! My 10-year anniversary is coming up on October 9th and you have inspired me! I definitely want to do something special for my fabulous brother who gave me the gift of life, and for my nephrologist and his nurse. Thank you for your positive energy!

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Aww, that makes my heart happy! So exciting that you will be celebrating your 10 year anniversary soon!Congratulations!!! I hope you have a fabulous day and please let me know how you celebrate this monumental day! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jeffrey Isaacs

    such a beautiful story full of acts of kindness. You are so beautiful inside & out.

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you so so much Jeffrey! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Laura

    Great Job Valen….you made me smile as I read through your journey. I am sooo happy for you and your health. Just keep being the way you are….Joyful, Positive, and Beautiful. Love reading your blogs and fb. Maybe one day we will meet through PKD. My walk for PKD is just around the corner, September 15 and as I speak to the participants I will be thinking of you and your great spirit. Take Care

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Laura,
      Thank you for this beautiful message. I sure hope our paths cross through our PKD journey. What state do you live in? So wonderful you are doing the walk. Thank you for your support and reading my blog. Means so much that you would be thinking of me while you speak to the participants!

      Reply
  4. Auna Mae

    Hey there, Happy 10 years!!! You look great!!! Thanks for posting, I think thats a great idea. Random acts of kindness are the coolest! August 10 was my 2 year anniversary this year and Dr. Montgomery was also my surgeon! Everything is going well. I was in the paired matching program. A friend of mine donated for me and another lady donated to me. I met my donor before I left the hospital after surgery. She even came to my wedding 4 months ago! The website I included is of my own original music. My featured song is: “The Unforgotten”. It is in rememberence of those who died and served on 9/11. Check it out, share it with others!

    Enjoy a great evening,

    Auna Mae

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Auna! Great to meet you! Thank you for the well wishes and congratulations on your 2 year anniversary! 🙂 So awesome that you had Dr. Montgomery as your surgeon. He is amazing and for sure one of a kind! I don’t see a link, what is the website to check out your music. Here’s to many more healthy years with your precious gift!

      Reply
  5. Dennis McCloskey

    Great job, Valen! Your kindness is helping to change the world, one small act at a time. Kindness comes full-circle, you know. Be prepared for the “boomerang” effect. 🙂

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you Dennis!!! Haha! I think I’ve heard that boomerang effect phrase before! 😉 Oh I’m ready! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Melanie

    You are such a wonderful inspiration! I heard you speak at a PKD Foundation chapter meeting in North Texas and look forward to reading your blog. I was diagnosed 10 years ago and am looking forward to a transplant within the next few months if my sister is a match. Keep doing what you do!

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you very much Melanie! That is so cool that you heard me speak in TX! Love TX! 🙂 Thank you for connecting on here and for reading my blog. Hoping your sister is a match and you can receive the gift of life soon! 🙂 Take good care and keep me posted on how you are doing with your upcoming transplant.

      Reply
  7. Heidi

    This blog is great, and your idea of 10 acts of kindness was a wonderful one!

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you so much Heidi! I had a blast doing them! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Susan Howman

    Valen as I read your story of the acts of kindness my eyes filled with with tears of joy, tears of happiness and tears of thanksgiving. What joy you must have brought to total strangers lives. I could just imagine their surprised but happy faces as they received your kindness. Wouldn’t this world be a better place if everyone passes on their joy and happiness? I’m am so thankful for you. I remember talking with you a few years ago about how God had laid on my heart to pray for you. He has you here for a HUGE reason!! I am also thankful for your willingness, the same willingness organ donors show, to be used for such a great cause. You are a true inspiration to me and so many others. Finally as I read your story I was filled once again with such thankfulness for my living donor. She gave me her kidney a little over four years ago with such love and really with such confidence and ease that some days I still can’t believe it even happened. Keep smiling that beautiful smile, you are destin for big things.

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Aww Sweet Susan! Sending tons of love to you. Thank you so so much! I remember that special conversation you and I shared. It is one I will never forget and always treasure. Thank you for supporting and believing in me. Big hugs my friend! xo

      Reply
  9. Carol Trefcer

    Well…I got thru most of your acts of kindness without tears……I laughed at the thought of the Auburn police with little tin hats..then…..I lost my composure…with your visit to someone who needed you…at the dialysis center…You were given a gift from God…and all of us who have met you since……were given you, Valen…our gift from God…you got me thru the darkest days of cancer with your story…your book written so beautifully by Dennis McCloskey…I love you..and Noah so much….thank you Bill and Pam..for sharing “your” gift with the world…

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Oh Carol, this was so touching! We can’t thank you enough for all you have done for our family. It meant so much to me knowing that you were reading my biography while you were enduring cancer and was so grateful that I could help in some small way along your difficult journey. You have done SO SO much for Noah and I and we appreciate it more than you will ever know. It was meant to be that our paths crossed in life. I’m so thankful my Mom met you, then Noah and I got to meet you two in person and thanks to you living in Auburn, now we do too and love it! You are the only family we have close to us and we treasure our friendship. Thank you for your amazing support and all of your help during my health hiccups! 🙂 I will treasure these thoughtful words from you. Sure hope to see you soon and give you and Bill a big hug. You two are two of the nicest kindest people I have ever met! I love you! xoxo

      Reply
  10. Amy Tippins

    (1) Why can’t my phebotologist look like Matt? And is he single?

    (2) CUPCAKES!

    (3) Don’t forget to get the cop’s names in case you get pulled over for ticket. Wait, maybe I should go drop off some cupcake at my police station.

    Valen, I am so honor to know you and so blessed to have you as part of my transplant family. Every day I am amazed to learn more and more about what your strong, but challenging body has gone through. Isn’t it beautiful when we love what life has put us through because it has given us purpose. Now, when is our road show?

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      (1) Haha! Oh how I love you Amy! Funny, I have heard this comment from several people..including my Mom! Ha! He is super sweet. I will ask him this weekend when he is drawing my blood and see if he is interested in a long distance relationship! 😉
      (2) Love cupcakes! 🙂 Love making them!
      (3) Haha! Already on it! Have her name and hope if I ever get pulled over, that they had one of my cupcakes! 🙂

      You are the sweetest and I couldn’t agree with your more. When passion and purpose meet, there is no stopping it…just like there is no stopping us. You are the best! Thank you for your friendship! I would love nothing more than a road show with you!!!
      P.S. Thank you for keeping it classy on my blog! 😉

      Reply
  11. Diane Yocum

    Thanks, Valen for the continued wealth of positive information. I was fortunate enough to be a donor through a paired matching with 3 donors and 3 recipients at Hopkins almost two years ago. If I had another kidney to give, I’d do it all over again. I encourage anyone who’s ever thought about it, or never thought about donation, to look into it. One of the best things I ever did for someone else and for myself.

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you SO much Diane for donating your kidney! Organ donors rock!!! 🙂 Hopkins is an amazing facility with fabulous doctors. Thank you for giving someone else a second chance at life like I have been so fortunate to receive. I really appreciate you getting the positive message out there about organ donation and what a profound impact it has not only on the recipient, the donor and also those around us. You’re a hero!

      Reply
  12. Sara W

    I wanted to give you credit for a bit of a chain effect. I do believe in pay it forward and that is in my mind often, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to thank the rescue crew that took me to the hospital in the wee hours a few weeks ago. Pay it forward is a bit different than being indebted….After reading your story, I was inspired and got an idea. I had had success earlier with giving colleagues unexpected pizza party money and decided that a gift certificate to a local place and note of thanks was the perfect tangible thing I could offer to our committed community members at the Northern Tazewell Fire and Rescue. It is quite awesome to experience their excellent service directly and in a time of need. I am grateful to them and for your inspiration on how to make a difference. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Aww, that is so wonderful and awesome Sara! Thank you for sharing this story with all of us. I know they greatly appreciated your kindness and it definitely brightened their day. I know hearing about it brightened mine. Thanks for keeping the chain effect of positivity going! 🙂

      Reply
  13. Michelle

    Wow I was touched by all of this. I’m happy that there are still wonderful people in this world <3

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Aww, thank you very much Michelle! It was an amazing day filled with memories I will forever treasure.

      Reply

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