Bridget McCaffrey was born a fighter. Born with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD), she spent the first two months of her life in the hospital, and her first two weeks on a ventilator. She began dialysis at 9-days-old. She had a kidney removed at 2-weeks to make room in her tiny body. In spite of PKD, she was making all her milestones and she was ready for a transplant.
One night, though, Bridget stopped breathing at home. Her parents resuscitated her, and she was flown to the hospital. Sadly, Bridget passed away at just 16-months old.
Bridget’s mother, Kim McCaffrey, says one of her biggest concerns was that Bridget’s memory wouldn’t be present at family functions. “One of the hardest things for me and my husband in the couple years after she died was getting together with family who are so wonderful and supportive, but saying that someone is missing. Taking photos with family and knowing that someone is missing. You notice her absence suddenly everywhere you go.”
With this mindset, Kim set out to ensure her daughter’s legacy would live on. Kim became a runner when Bridget died as a way to honor her, so when she heard about the Run for PKD’s Turkey Trot for PKD, she knew that would be the perfect way for the whole family to remember her.
“This race on Thanksgiving, it is all about family. She’ll always be in our hearts, but the Turkey Trot for PKD has become a way to insert her into our holiday tradition and have her cousins be able to talk about her because unfortunately, not all of them had the chance to meet her. Some of them are too young, but they know she’s already an angel. The race makes it more comfortable to talk about something that is really hard.”
Participating in the Turkey Trot for PKD has also been a way for Kim and her family to give back to the PKD Foundation, which has been a resource and support system for her since Bridget was born.
“Raising money for PKD means everything to me,” Kim said. “I am a researcher in my heart and by my training, and I know that research is the way things happen. Throw in the support that the PKD Foundation offers and the resources it offers to families who are in the midst of the disease – that’s where the magic happens.”
For those considering participating in a Run for PKD event, Kim says the best way to get yourself motivated is to sign up for a race. “If you’re going to run a race and have that as your goal, you’ll be all the more motivated knowing that you aren’t just training for yourself, but for fundraising for a very important cause.
“The Turkey Trot for PKD race is a win-win, you’re doing it for your health and strapping on your sneakers to help fund such an important organization. People want to help and want to give, because that’s what the holidays are all about – taking care of each other.”
Kim says it is also a fun way to start a new family tradition. She and her husband have since adopted a son named Daniel, who helps decorate Kim’s bib for the race with his sister’s name on it. Kim also runs with nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, even her father-in-law who is in his seventies. “It is an inspiration to see him run with his kids and grandkids, and it feels wonderful to have Bridget be a part of it all.”
This Thanksgiving, round up those you’re thankful for and participate in our Turkey Trot for PKD. Learn more at runforpkd.org/turkeytrot.