Superheroes Rule the Day at Northeast Ohio Walk for PKD

Colorful superheroes – honest-to-goodness Heroes for Hope – turned out in force to make this year’s Northeast Ohio Walk for PKD a resounding success. The two-mile walk took place at Cleveland’s scenic Bedford Reservation Park on a day with blue skies and perfect weather.

Pearls of Hope Walk for PKD team.

Led by Walk Coordinator and creative dynamo Ashley Heffner, the Penny Kids’ Dash kicked off the day’s theme of Superheroes. Colorful signs and matching goody bags displaying WHAM! BOOOM! KA-POW! And KRASH! matched water bottles labeled DRINK! –adding to the excitement and fun.

Pearls of Hope, a team of about thirty of Ashley’s family members, walk to make a difference in the lives of Ashley and other loved ones with PKD. In fact, Ashley lost her father to PKD about five years ago. The family is determined to make a difference.

Because PKD is a disease affecting families over generations, it isn’t surprising that so many grandparents, parents, and children come together at Walks to do their part to find treatments and an eventual cure.

Ray Purgert, Sr. and family.

Ray Sr. and Jill Purgert, their son Robert and grandson Paul attended the Walk. Ray, who is celebrating his 20-year transplant anniversary, wore a t-shirt, “I Contain Recycled Parts.” The Purgerts have four children with PKD. As a family, they believe in doing everything they can to raise money to fund research.

Danielle Buckner, Northeast Ohio Chapter Coordinator, attended the Walk with her husband Chuck and daughters Hailey, Kylee, Grace, and Bella. Danielle also serves on the newly formed PKD in Children Council. Buckner’s Buddies turned out to support the family. She explained that when Hailey and Kylee were first diagnosed with PKD, she and Chuck searched desperately for more information, unsure about what to do next to help their daughters. Danielle found the PKD Foundation’s website, and other family members stepped up to take care of the girls so that Danielle and Chuck could attend their first PKD Conference, held in Orlando that year. It made all the difference for them.

Throughout the Walk, I heard many volunteers comment on the amazing progress that has been made this year in PKD research. We are celebrating our first ever treatment for ADPKD, a drug called tolvaptan, approved in April. With tolvaptan now available, and other treatments in the pipeline, there was hope to spare among this group of supporters.

The Northeast Ohio Walk for PKD had a $17,500 goal this year. At last count, this Walk has exceeded its goal. It was my first time attending this Walk, but it won’t be my last. Congratulations to Ashley Heffner and to all who volunteered and walked for a cure!

Don’t miss out on a chance to get involved in the Walk for PKD. Register now at


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