Finding support in your local community

Valen and her PKD family.

When friendships and connections unfold organically in life, we know they are meant to be. I believe we cross paths with people in life for a reason, but it may take time to understand why. However, not everything in life comes to us; we may need to reach out and seek what we are in need of, whether that is the support of like-minded people, inspiration or friendships from those who understand what it is like to live with PKD. I was reminded of all of this at our recent PKD Sacramento Chapter meeting for our upcoming Corks for a Cure fundraising event.

Corks for a Cure planning committee.

There is a special bond between the six of us on the planning committee. Three of us have PKD: myself, Nicole Cardin and our Walk Coordinator Larianne Awbrey Austin, all with a long family history of the disease. Two other members of the committee are our Chapter Coordinator, Julia Adams, and her husband Rick. Their daughter, Elizabeth, has PKD as a result of a spontaneous mutation and Rick donated his kidney to her. Then there is my dear husband and caregiver, Noah. Our strong connection to PKD and how it has greatly impacted our lives in different ways fuels our mission to make a difference for future generations.

The 2016 silent auction table from Corks for a Cure.

It is hard to describe the magic that happens when the six of us are together, but the 180 people who attended our first Corks for a Cure event in February 2016 certainly felt it. Our hard work and passion came to life that evening with all of our friends, family and attendees. The beautiful thing about our team is that we each have our own unique talents, which made the event happen very naturally. We were overwhelmed by the support from our community and the success of raising more than $23,000 our first year.

Sacramento Chapter celebrating Julia’s birthday.

As we approach our second event on Feb. 25, I find myself reflecting on last year’s occasion and I am excited for what is to come. While the actual event is the icing on the cake, I love our meetings and all of the preparation leading up to the big day. We make our meetings fun by gathering at Nicole’s home and bringing food and drinks to enjoy. We not only take care of PKD business, but we catch up, provide support if someone needs to talk and celebrate fun events like birthdays. We have created our own PKD family and I couldn’t be more grateful for the lifelong friendships that have blossomed from some of the hardest trials in our lives.

Toasting to end PKD at the 2016 Sacramento Corks for a Cure.

Our event committee honestly shows that there can be a silver lining to PKD and we can create something good from the challenges we face in life. I strongly encourage you to reach out to your local Chapter to connect with others, seek support, and get involved in a local event. If you can’t find something close to you, I encourage you to create a DIY fundraising event and do something positive for PKD. Invite others to join you in the planning process–not only does it feel supportive to meet on a regular basis with people who are on the same journey as you, but it can be fun and everyone brings something to the table in terms of skills, interests and contacts…collaborate!

Valen and Julia raising awareness for PKD and Corks for a Cure on the morning news.

Corks for a Cure is such a good example of this. We started with passion and an idea, and although we didn’t know exactly how it would unfold, we put it out to the community and it was amazing. It is also a wonderful way to raise awareness because most people at our event aren’t patients, which gives us a great opportunity to educate people. It’s fun to take chances and try new things in life. You’ll learn that people are generous and want to help and give back. It is important for us to give them a vehicle to do so. I encourage you to just ask. Get out there and be active and make the most of PKD.

Check out awesome video footage from last year’s event here!

Want to connect with others in your local community? Join your local Chapter.


  1. Nicole

    What a beautiful post, Valen!
    I have enjoyed all of the planning almost as much as the actual event!


    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you very much Nicole! So grateful for you and your friendship! Can’t wait to celebrate silver linings with you on the 25th! 🙂 xoxo

  2. Jan

    Congrats to you all It’s so wonderful to have a wonderful PKD Family to share our lives with. I cannot imagine my life now without mine….including you my dear I love our special events too, knowing we are working together to END PKD I will be thinking of you all on the 25th xo

    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you sweet Jan! So thankful for my PKD Canadian family! Wish you could be with us on the 25th! Looking forward to the next time we can be together. Love you! xo


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