I put the finishing touches on my festive Donate Life outfit as I put on my big blue and green earrings in preparation for an interview with the Auburn Journal. I was wearing a frilly green tank top, blue scarf, white jeans and green and blue platforms. Although I was not feeling my normal spunky self because of my herniated disks, it felt good to do my hair, put make-up on and be wearing this bright and cheery outfit. This clothing and these colors brought back wonderful memories from April 2012.
As I looked in the mirror, I began to reminisce about last year’s Donate Life Month as it was filled with amazing opportunities and priceless memories. I was named one of the “12 Inspiring Women” for Donate Life’s “20 Million in 2012” campaign. I had the honor of attending a photo shoot that was hosted by famous kidney donor Ann Lopez in Beverly Hills, CA. Throughout this event I met many famous people as we were all there raising awareness for a vital cause: organ donation. I had the privilege of working with Tracy Bryan, Director of Public Relations at Sierra Donor Services. Tracy and I were on TV and radio shows sharing my story and the importance to Donate Life. I also had the pleasure of sharing my story at the DMV in Truckee, CA during an event honoring their office for having the highest donor registration rates in California. These wonderful memories put a smile on my face as I walked down the stairs of my home.
I opened the blinds and our front windows and felt the warmth of the California sun and the fresh air. I was enjoying the simple pleasures in life, which make me thankful to be alive. It was not long before I saw two men walking down our driveway, one carrying a camera and the other a notepad. It was a writer and photographer for the Auburn Journal, which is publishing a photo and story about me in this week’s paper about my connection with organ donation and National Donate Life Blue & Green Day. The photographer took a few photos and then I sat down and chatted with the writer for an hou
It is difficult when I have a limited amount of time with a writer to try and tell him all that I have endured in my 30 years. I felt as though I was overwhelming him with information but he said he would rather have more information than less. I told him about my PKD and what led to the ultimate demise of my kidneys and why I needed a transplant and how the transplant restored me back to health and was what I needed to live. I told him how I would not be sitting at my kitchen table with him that day if it were not for the selfless gift that my donor, Sally, gave me. I explained how wonderful Sierra Donor Services is (my local organ procurement organization) and how gratifying it has been to volunteer for them. When I do interviews like this I sometimes feel like I am talking about someone else because it is hard for me to fathom how my body could handle all that it has and how well I am doing today. I told him of my current challenges with my herniated disks but it has not taken away my smile or my spirit and how this too shall pass. When I was telling my story I enjoyed seeing his expressions of surprise and amazement for all that has happened thus far in my life. I don’t stop and think about it on a daily basis as it is all in the past, so at times like this when I talk about it, I find myself amazed as well.
Sharing my story and volunteering for all of the various organizations that I am involved with has been a wonderful outlet for me. Combine this and my love for the outdoors, and that is my therapy. When Andrew from the Auburn Journal left, I had a wonderful feeling of empowerment as I have turned my triumph over adversity into something positive. I hope those who read his article and this post will be inspired to live even more positively, to reach out and volunteer, to wear blue and green with me on April 19th to support organ donation and to say “yes” when asked to be an organ donor.
As mentioned in last week’s blog, tomorrow April 19th is Donate Life’s National Blue and Green Day. This is a day when you are encouraged to wear Donate Life’s colors of blue and green to show your support for organ donation. I would love if you would all join me in this fun initiative. It would be great to put a face to the names of those of you who have left comments on my blog and who read my blog. I am inviting you to friend me on Facebook, Valen Cover Keefer, and on April 19th post a picture of yourself wearing blue and green in support of organ donation. You can write something like, “I am wearing blue and green in support of organ donation for Valen’s Virtual Blue & Green Fashion Show. PKD Will Not Beat Me!” I will mail an autographed copy of my biography to the person whose picture receives the most “likes” on my Facebook page on April 19th.