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Gratitude: A celebratory benefit for the PKD Foundation

Linda Rose KoehlerLinda Rose Koehler

Fundraiser Honoree

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Linda Rose Koehler lost her son, Leland Earl Carter, Jr., to PKD in February of 2009. His diagnosis five years earlier at the age of 33 came as a surprise to Linda Rose. His symptoms started manifesting three decades after Linda Rose’s mother-in-law had dismissed the idea that Leland would inherit the gene from his father’s side of the family. Leland also had cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it hard for the heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of the body, and which can be a complication associated with PKD. He had been in and out of the hospital in his last couple of years, and he passed away during a surgery to put in a defibrillator.

The loss of her son prompted Linda Rose, who became the President of the California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) in 2011, to host a silent auction at the Association’s Symposium to raise awareness and funds for PKD research. For many years after, her local chapter, Golden Gate, would host a monthly raffle and send the proceeds to the PKD Foundation. Linda Rose was then contacted by the Foundation and encouraged to get involved with the PKD Foundation San Francisco Chapter.

Linda Rose’s granddaughter, Hannah, was also diagnosed with PKD when she was only 10 years old. This motivated Linda Rose to continue to be involved with the Foundation. “I don’t want to see Hannah go through what her father went through, so I do all that I can to raise funds and awareness for PKD, to bring knowledge to people who would have never heard about it before,” Linda Rose says. “I want everyone that I can touch to know about this awful disease and try to do everything possible to find a treatment and a cure. I do all I can just so people won’t forget about it.”

Her efforts are far from in vain. Linda Rose currently sits on the National Board for the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) as a Regional Vice President and hosts a meeting every year where the raffle is still held to raise funds for the PKD Foundation. It has become her passion, and the event is building momentum as the years go on because people are more aware of PKD and Linda Rose’s initiative. People come to her to share their stories of friends or relatives who have been diagnosed. This year’s meeting in August raised almost $1,000.

Linda Rose also encourages others to get involved with the PKD Foundation to increase visibility for PKD. “The Foundation needs everybody to support the cause and spread awareness, whether it’s through fundraising or legislative advocacy, amongst other means,” she says.

Being honored at Gratitude for her fundraising efforts means a great deal to Linda Rose. “Honestly, I was floored when I was asked if I would accept this honor. I couldn’t talk, I was crying—that’s not why I do the fundraising, it’s not for recognition. I do it because of my son and my granddaughter, so it’s an extreme honor. I want Hannah to have a long, healthy life, and for me, it’s just a little thing I can do to help that happen, and to help everybody else affected by PKD, too.”

Linda Rose would like to thank her friends and colleagues who have supported PKD over the years, fundraising and giving their support and their help to the cause. She is very proud of them and their efforts. “I know we’re all health insurance agents and it’s on our mind because we feel that we make a difference in what we do,” Linda Rose says. “We’re from all different walks of life, but they’ve been very supportive of me and my quest, and that means the world to me.”