When I was 23 years old, I lived in York, PA and was the Chapter and Walk Coordinator for the South Central PA Chapter of the PKD Foundation. I found myself researching senators online, as I had an interest in educating them on PKD and getting them involved in the local PKD Chapter. I randomly chose Senator Mike Waugh. I called his office and said that I would like to meet with Senator Waugh, educate him on PKD and inform him on the advocacy work I was doing in the community. His office graciously set up an appointment for me to meet with Senator Waugh.
I remember the first time we met. He walked into the room where I was awaiting his arrival. We shook hands and he sat in a chair across the table from me. I could instantly sense his kind aura. I said, “Hi, my name is Valen.” I proceeded to tell him my personal journey with PKD and how it has taken a toll on my family. I told him the impressive facts and statistics on the disease. I shared the advocacy work I have done to date and my goals for the future. Senator Waugh was very engaged and in awe by PKD as he had never heard of it before. I left his office that day with a hopeful heart that he would join me in the fight against PKD. He did that and more.
Senator Waugh and his amazing assistant at the time, Erin Kelly Marsicano, later performed some remarkable efforts for polycystic kidney disease and the local Chapter. They became a staple part of most initiatives I worked on. Senator Waugh spoke at and helped me kick off the 2006 Walk for PKD, which I organized. He invited me as a guest on The Commonwealth Report and interviewed me on this 30-minute monthly program that takes a look at state government issues that are important to the lives of people in York County, PA. To view the interview, please see the three links below:
- The Commonwealth Report: Part 1 of 3
- The Commonwealth Report: Part 2 of 3
- The Commonwealth Report: Part 3 of 3
On June 30, 2009, Senator Waugh invited me as his special guest to the Senate Session at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA. During this session, they officially adopted the Resolution of Sept. 2009 being PKD Awareness Month in Pennsylvania to coincide with our local Walk for PKD on Sept. 19, 2009. To view the adoption of this resolution, please see the link below:
On March 27, 2010, I held a Renal Education Seminar in York, PA. Senator Waugh’s assistant, Erin Kelly Marsicano, attended on his behalf and presented a resolution designating the month of March 2010 as “Kidney Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. This resolution was “to spur awareness of kidney disease, urge people to have early symptoms treated and encourage healthy persons to become organ donors whenever possible to help those who need a kidney transplant.”
To view news coverage from this event, please see the two links below:
On Oct. 8, 2014, Mike L. Waugh of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, passed away at his home on his family farm. He was 58 years old and battling cancer. York Sunday News dated Oct.12, 2014 reads, “Former state Senator Mike Waugh left many different legacies when he died Wednesday. Things he is remembered for include his time as a firefighter, a breeder of horses, the head of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, a managing partner in family business Waugh Construction Co., a Shrewsbury Township supervisor and a long career as a state legislator. Three of those “hats” came together to save lives throughout Pennsylvania Construction Code Act of 1999.”
The York Dispatch dated Friday Oct. 10, 2014, reads that Senator Waugh “was the real deal.” To me, he was a friend and saved lives as an amazing supporter of PKD. Senator Waugh had a kindness and calmness that drew you in and you could feel he was a caring man. I was in awe when I learned of his passing. It has been bittersweet to watch the above videos and to read the articles published in the papers. I hope he knew how much I appreciated his efforts on behalf of PKD. I loved his style. He would wear suits, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats and always had a fun mustache. Not your normal man in politics. One that always had his heart in the right place. He had a genuine interest in my story and compassionate nature for all suffering from PKD. Our teamwork accomplished great things and our friendship exemplifies the power of taking a leap of faith and introducing yourself to someone new. Don’t be afraid to share your story. You never know where it may lead. Senator Waugh will always hold a special place in my heart. I will forever appreciate his generous work. I will always remember and be thankful for the day and opportunity to say, “Hi, my name is…” and shake the hand of the extraordinary Senator Mike Waugh.