Gratitude: A celebratory benefit for the PKD Foundation

Tracee HicksTracee Hicks


Tracee Hicks is an extraordinary volunteer. She is driven, not just for herself as a PKD patient, but as the daughter of a mother diagnosed at 42 who eventually went on dialysis and received a kidney transplant. "She's celebrating 28 years with her transplanted kidney!" says Tracee, who is grateful that her mother has been able to experience the simple joys of watching her children and grandchildren grow up.

Like her mother, Tracee was diagnosed with PKD at age 42. It was then she decided to get involved. Armed with a desire to make a difference and a knack for relationship building, Tracee joined the PKD Foundation Chapter in Chicago in 2004 and through 2010 served as the Chicago Walk for PKD Coordinator. Together with Chapter Coordinator Dave Kappas, they were a volunteer force to be reckoned with.

"The timing just worked well for me to be able to devote a lot of time and energy to the Walk," she says. "Like anything else, in order to be successful, a significant amount of hard work, along with some luck, is required. Without event planning experience, I dove in and relied heavily on family, friends and neighbors on Walk day. However, it was the strong bond that Dave and I developed that really was the foundation for success. Our shared ambition and dedication to raising funds for research is what drove my unwavering commitment to the Chicago Walk for PKD for seven years."

Her passion proved contagious, and the momentum built from there.

"As the top net Walk in the country from 2005 through 2010, we knew we were touching a lot of lives and making an impact," says Tracee. Under her leadership, Chicago Walk revenues ranged anywhere from $175,000 to $235,000 annually.

But there's much more to it for Tracee.

"I was rewarded by the camaraderie and collective effort of the approximately 1,000 people who attended the Chicago Walk during those peak years," she says. "We all felt the connection of our community coming together to do our part to raise awareness and the necessary funding for research."

From 2007 to 2008, Tracee served on the Foundation's Strategic Planning Committee, offering valuable insights and guidance. To recognize her contributions, in 2008 the PKD Foundation honored her with the Gordon Flesch Humanitarian Award honoring a volunteer who devoted tremendous amounts of time and energy to further the mission of the Foundation.