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 event. This week’s featured contributor is Nicole Harr, Director of Patient & Community Engagement:
Through the years, I have attended many Walk for PKD events in cities across the United States and even though every event is a little different than the one before, there is one thing that binds them all together: the community. Set on Manhattan’s West Side on Pier 84, the New York City Walk for PKD is no exception. The aircraft carrier, Intrepid, looms on one side of the pier and the city skyline is the backdrop. As Walk for PKD participants begin to arrive, the landscape changes from a normal day in the city for those going for a run or fishing off the pier, to a gathering of hundreds coming together for a common goal – to raise money to support research and make an impact that will change the future for generations to come.
This is the hope that I saw on the faces of everyone as they stopped by the registration tent on their way into the park. As the crowd grew, teams gathered in matching shirts, celebrated being together and making a difference by taking pictures that would be shared to raise awareness of PKD and the impact the New York City Walk for PKD will make this year. As I met some people for the very first time or caught up with those I have known for years, I was inspired by the commitment and the passion everyone brought on Walk day. There was an undeniable excitement that can be felt from the first person that checks in until the last participant heads off on the walk route.
I met families representing generations that have suffered with PKD who were celebrating good health and being together on a beautiful day. I met friends and co-workers coming to the Walk to support someone that they care about. I enjoyed grabbing a few moments with the volunteer leaders who share their talents and generously give their time to support families and raise money for research. I met volunteers that have no connection to PKD but came out and worked hard to support a cause important to their neighbors and community.
When the Walk is over and boxes are packed up for another year, I leave with the realization that even though the participants that are there may not know each other, being together means that no one is facing PKD alone. I think this is why we walk. This is what binds us together on Walk day and keeps us focused on a shared vision of a future when no one will suffer the full effects of PKD.