Today wraps up 31 Days of PKD Challenges. It has been fun to see the heightened PKD awareness being spread on social media the past couple of weeks. We should be proud of the difference we’ve made this month and strive to keep that momentum going. On this last day of National Kidney Month, I’d like to share a moving experience that unfolded during this special month.
Last Thursday evening, I was a judge at the Auburn 49er Lions Club 79th Annual Multiple District Four Lions Student Speakers Program. With my love of public speaking, I was very excited for this opportunity.
I had the privilege of judging two separate contests, each with two high school students. I was extremely impressed and motivated by their talent. Following the speeches, the judges were introduced to the audience. We were then able to share a little bit about ourselves, and I talked about PKD and my thoughts on the students’ speeches. Upon sitting down from the introductions, I felt a hand on my back. When I turned around, I saw a woman whose name I later learned is Beverly. I could see and feel her excitement. Her first words to me were, “I have PKD and I’ve had a transplant.” I was stunned.
We excitedly spoke to one another, sharing our family history and trying to fit in as much as we could during the brief intermission. I felt an instant bond with Beverly, who is 61 years old. She has the sweetest aura and for the first time I felt a connection with my grandmother who had PKD and died before I was born. It was an unexplainable, but comforting feeling.
Beverly was diagnosed in her 30s and had a transplant several years ago. Many in her family also have PKD. Outside of her family, I am the first person she has ever met with PKD.
Beverly said she is grateful for her transplant, but has been praying for a while about some concerns she has in life. She said I was the answer to her prayers. I am going to be meeting her for coffee today.
After surviving all that I have, and witnessing how things often unfold just as they should — and right when they are supposed to — I am a true believer that nothing is coincidental. Beverly had just joined the Lions Club, and at her first event, she met me. This was a serendipitous event. When we said goodbye, I said to Beverly, “I now know why I was asked to be a judge at this event: to meet you!” Everything happens for a reason, and this chance encounter happened because I chose to share my story.
I hope you will join me with the mindset that every day is a PKD challenge. Yes, we are faced with personal PKD challenges to endure, but I see it as my responsibility, challenge and privilege to do all I can to raise awareness and help those in the PKD community. Even though National Kidney Month and the 31 Days of PKD Challenges are over, support, awareness and education should never stop.
Below are some of my favorite challenges from the 31 Days of PKD Challenges. What were your favorites? Share them below!
Great article, Valen. Thank you for being a great Ambassador for the fight against PKD. I had my first coincidental meeting with a PKD patient at an event at UCLA last year. What a wonderful feeling to make a new connection and help someone who didn’t expect that situation…
Thank you so much, Dwight! It is my honor! 🙂 It really was a wonderful feeling, glad you experienced a similar event. That person was lucky to meet you! 🙂 I had a delightful afternoon visiting with Beverly today. I can’t believe she is 61 and I’m the first person she has met with PKD. I’m excited to be that person and grateful for this new PKD friendship.