Memory Lane

With my 10-year kidney transplant anniversary this coming Monday, I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane.

Everything we have endured in the past has led us to where we are today. If we are happy today, then everything we have gone through was worthwhile and meant to be.

My battle with PKD and my kidney transplant has led me to amazing experiences that I would have never been given the opportunity to enjoy if it were not for all that I have overcome.

I thought I would look back over the past 10 years and share with you some of the monumental experiences I have had, the opportunities I have been afforded and what I have been able to accomplish thanks to the second chance I have been given.

A bazillion thank yous would never be enough for Sally Robertson, who gave me the past beautiful 10 years of my life. So, I lead my life with positivity, purpose and to make her proud of the decision that she made.

Let’s take a walk back in time starting with the year my health was restored…

• 2002 – Received a second chance at life

Sally & I day after transplant Sally & I a few years after transplant

• 2003 – Started working full time

• 2004 – Founded the South Central PA Chapter of the PKD Foundation and organized my first Walk for PKD

• 2005 – Campaign Chair for the PKD Foundation Campaign for a Cure raising more than $1 million, organized 2nd Walk for PKD

2nd South Central PA Walk for PKD

• 2006 – Nominated, received the most votes nationwide and named the first ever Davita Kidney Idol, organized 3rd Walk for PKD

2007 – Addressed the Congressional Kidney Caucus in Washington DC to help pass the GINA act and the importance of NIH funding for PKD

• 2008– My award winning biography, “My Favorite American” was released

At Border’s Books book signing event

• 2009 – Received the Celebration of Life award from the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center, Selected as “Smart Woman” for Smart Magazine

• 2010 – Noah and I embarked on our cross-country adventure moving from Pennsylvania to California, won the Astellas Ride of a Lifetime Contest

At the top of Pikes Peak on our cross country journey

• 2011 – Rode on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade, Named National Spokesperson for UKRO, Married my Sweetheart, Noah

• 2012 – Named by Donate Life America as 1 of the “12 Inspiring Women of 20 Million in 2012”

Brad Ellis (from Glee) and I at Donate Life Photo Shoot

There are countless experiences I have been afforded thanks to the challenging hand I have been dealt in life. These experiences have given me a voice in which I have used while sharing my triumph over adversity at more than 80 events.

What positive experiences or accomplishments have impacted your life?

Monday I will be celebrating life and all that I am thankful for. I am planning a fun day on the 13th and look forward to sharing it with you in next week’s blog post.



  1. Jody Balaun

    Valen….as always your story gives me goosebumps & hope. We’re organizing our Denver Walk Team now & hope to bring awareness to PKD through your story & our own. Happy 10th Anniversary….we’ll be celebrating you from Colorado! Take care…Jody

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Jody,
      I am so thankful that we have met through this blog and truly appreciate your wonderful support. Your kind words are so encouraging. That is so awesome that you are organizaing your Denver Walk Team. I love Denver and wish I could be there and meet you. 🙂 Thank you so much for the anniversary wishes. I am so excited for Monday!!!

  2. Lisa Dalto

    Happy 10 year anniversary! Praying your day is blessed from start to finish~

    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you so so much Lisa! 🙂 xoxo

  3. Michael Skinner

    Congratulations on your transplantaversary! My wife is only 9 months post op and it is truly amazing what a difference it has made. These past nine months we have been reflecting on where we were medically and mentally. Last year this time, we were actively searching for a donor and out of the blue a friend of ours who lives in Colorado called and said she was willing to get tested, sailed through the testing process and donated her kidney whom we have named “Bean”. It was almost as if the perfect storm was created via social media, news media and Jennifer’s generous gift. In the month prior to transplant we agreed to let a student filmaker document our story, which has served as a reminder to us how fortunate we were to have a donor come forward. In addition it has been an honor to help others beginning their social media campain as we can give them ideas of things we tried. Thank you for continuing your great service to inspire, motivate and support others with your story and being positive. If you should find yourself in the Boston area, we would love to have lunch and talk Kidneys!
    Here is the link to our documentary if you are interested

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Michael,
      That is so wonderful that your wife received the gift of life 9 months ago and is doing so well. Such a miracle. So funny, my nickname is Bean. That is what my husband calls me. 🙂 Such a cute name for her kidney. So fabulous that you had a film maker to document your journey. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I can’t wait to watch it and learn about your story. Thank you for reaching out to me on here. Take good care and wishing your wife and “bean” the best of health. 🙂

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Michael,
      I just watched your documentary and it is priceless. Brought tears to my eyes as I watched and learned of your journey. Your wife is beautiful and I am so thankful your friend stepped forward and was willing to donate so that it was a seamless process and she did not have to endure dialysis. I loved the cake “Welcome Bean.” Put a huge smile on my face. Thank you for sharing your touching story with me. I hope your wife continues to feel great and enjoys many many healthy years with her new gift! She is lucky to have such a supportive husband, so I commend you for all that you do.

  4. Tonya

    You are such an inspiration. I found out that I have PKD just this week as I was going through the donor process to give a kidney to my father and of course, it was really tough news to get at first. Your stories on this blog are truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Tonya,
      I’m so sorry that you had to find out that way. I sure hope you are able to find a donor for your father real soon. Sending lots of strength your way as you digest the recent news. Thank you for your kind words of support and following my blog.


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