Published on September 14, 2021 | Over the past two decades, the Driving Home A Cure For PKD Golf Tournament has raised more than $1.5 million for research and education programs to help improve the lives of those affected by PKD. Organized by Karyn and Jerry Waxman, this tournament unites the local PKD community in Memphis, Tennessee.
How did the tournament get started?
Jerry and I have a slightly different recall regarding the origin of our golf tournament. He’ll simply and modestly tell you that we decided to try a golf tournament to raise funds and awareness for PKD after attending successful charity golf events for other causes. However, I know that it began as a labor of love from a man who felt the need to take a positive stand against PKD after our family was reeling in fear and frustration from my unexpected diagnosis.
I didn’t play golf back then. So, he needed to teach me quite a bit about the game what a day of entertaining golfers on the course might look like as we planned our first event. He focused on planning the tournament itself, including lining up sponsors, players, and on-course challenges. I, on the other hand, focused on things that included registration organization, food, signage, prizes, and our post-event program. As luck would have it, our turnout was impressive for a first-year event. We were ecstatic to raise a bit more than $12,000!
Has the Driving Home A Cure For PKD Golf Tournament changed over the years?
Within the first few years of successfully raising more money than each previous year, the challenge was to grow the event exponentially. Jerry came up with the idea to create a VIP sponsorship level that would not only raise the bar for fundraising but also allow multiple guests to play golf all day. His idea worked out so well that we went on to create a small morning pairs tournament to precede the main event that also included prizes and awards.
The next big change involved relocating the event to TPC Southwind, a prestigious private course that hosts the annual St. Jude Classic and now the WGC FedEx Tournament. This motivated some new interest in our PKD event, as many golfers love the idea of playing where the pros play. Other creative tweaks included the addition of a “Super Ticket Package” for a hole-in-one trip to Scotland, golf game scratch-off cards for a prize, and additional raffle tickets to win items such as a PKD Money Tree comprised of $150 worth of lottery tickets. Event entry fees now include all on-course contests and mulligans so that money is no longer exchanged beyond the registration point. That’s with the exception of silent auction items purchases after our awards banquet.
Is anything special planned for the 20th anniversary?
While we’ve spent several years donating ancillary fundraising money from this event to the ARPKD cause, this year we’re thrilled to announce that all proceeds will be directed to ARPKD research. Additionally, our PKD Honor/Memorial Garden will include a special memorial dedicated to ARPKD warrior, Emma Grace Hutchinson.
What’s your favorite part of the Driving Home A Cure For PKD Golf Tournament?
I love the fact that our guest retention numbers are high. It’s gratifying to have sponsors and players ask for the following year’s date so that they can put it on their calendar. It’s also fun to see many of our returning guests sporting PKD logo golf shirts, hats, and golf shoes they’ve received at prior events. They’ve embraced my personal journey with interest and concern, and they look forward to learning about how their support continues to have a positive impact on our PKD community.
Is the event always in honor of someone with PKD?
Several years ago, we created a PKD Honor/Memorial Garden near the practice putting green to memorialize PKD warriors and special supporters of our cause. This year is the first year that we’ve named the event to honor the memory of an ARPKD individual.
Any advice for someone who wants to start a PKD fundraiser?
Choose the kind of fundraiser you’re interested in attempting carefully. Select something that interests you and that you enjoy doing. This way you can draw upon personal experience to begin outlining what you’d like the event to look like and focusing on what needs to be done to pull it off. Since fundraising is your goal, come up with creative sponsorship opportunities to help kick start your effort. Enlist the help of others in the PKD community as well as family and friends. Brainstorm ways to make the event fun and memorable so that guests will be excited about coming back to both help and participate the following year.
Anything else you’d like to add about the Driving Home A Cure For PKD Golf Tournament or the PKD Foundation?
With zero family history of PKD, I belong to a relatively small group of patients who have PKD by virtue of a random genetic mutation. My initial diagnosis 22 years ago was difficult and challenged our family emotionally as we tried to understand what my journey might entail. Thanks to the PKD Foundation, I found comfort in a community that I never knew existed. My initial loneliness and despair quickly dissipated as Jerry and I became entrenched in learning about PKD, sharing our knowledge with local community members, and raising funds to benefit the cause.
Volunteering for clinical trials, serving as members of the board of trustees, and leading the Memphis Chapter is extraordinarily gratifying. We’re thrilled to have successfully raised $1.5 million for research through the Driving Home a Cure Tournament over the past 19 years. We’re especially excited to dedicate our 20th event to incredible ARPKD warriors, such as the late Emma Grace Hutchinson, and have all proceeds this year specifically support critical ARPKD research.
There are still sponsorship opportunities available as well as room for two or three more teams. For more information, please visit pkdcure.org/lmimemphis or contact Jerry Waxman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through the Fundraise Your Way program, patients and families can create their own DIY fundraisers. All it takes is a little creativity and passion. Simply choose how your fundraiser, set a donation goal, and establish your own fundraising page through our user-friendly platform. In supporting life-changing research and raising awareness of PKD, the only limit is your imagination. To get more ideas for fundraisers, check out this other interview on the blog!