This post is part of a special series in honor of the 2017 fall Walk for PKD season. As the season progresses, a PKD Foundation staff member will share their experience at a local Walk event. This week’s featured contributor is Joe Berrigan, Community Fundraising Specialist:
The Walk for PKD is the flagship event for the PKD Foundation. Our most visible event nationwide, it represents the largest coming-together of the PKD community and it provides a significant source of funding for the Foundation’s research efforts. Last year, Walk for PKD events raised almost two million dollars. This year, we expect that to grow and are proud to be able to say that 100% of every Walk donation goes to directly to funding critical PKD research.
Since I began working with the PKD Foundation in June, the entire staff has been preparing for the fall Walk season. This is one of the busiest times of the year, so while everyone has their own roles and responsibilities within the organization, everyone takes on more to pitch in and help with the Walk events in some capacity. It’s an all-hands-on-deck atmosphere.
As motivating as it is to see our headquarters staff dedicating so much time and energy towards these events, I know that work extends beyond the walls of our Kansas City office. Across the country Chapter Coordinators, Walk Coordinators and volunteers dedicate countless hours of their lives to make each of our Walk events successful. It can be hard work, but I know that it can also be fun and rewarding, and that all the effort is worthwhile.
I saw the fruits of this labor for the first time in September at the Kansas City and Delaware Walk events. Kansas City, which benefits from being home to the Foundation headquarters, is one of the larger events, whereas the Delaware Walk was described by a participant as a “small state, small walk. Big hearts.”
The impact of a Walk event can’t be boiled down to just its size or bottom line. Some people drive for hours with their family to attend. Some people pour hours of work and emotional energy into preparation. Some raise hundreds and thousands of dollars. Some people are familiar faces. Some are new. There are Penny Kids Dashes, people connecting, games, t-shirts and raffles. There is music, food, a start line and a finish line. Some people are there because they have PKD. Some are there for a loved one who has passed. Others are there to support a family member or friend. From all walks of life, people come together to celebrate and support each other, remind us that we are not alone, and work toward a better future for everyone impacted by PKD.
I’m sure the Walk for PKD means something different to everyone. To see these events in action for the first time, I can definitively say that, like the PKD community itself, they are inspiring.
Thank you to everyone who contributes to these events. You inspire and give us all a reason to hope.