Toast to a Cure

It’s healing and inspiring when we take something that tried to knock us down and use what we’ve learned to lift others up. This was illustrated last Saturday at the PKD Foundation Sacramento Chapter’s first annual Corks for a Cure fundraising event.

Team Awesome

We call ourselves Team Awesome and the Core Four and the Satellites.

Last summer, six passionate volunteers who are personally touched by PKD joined together to create this incredible event. Our committee is made up of:

  • Sacramento Chapter Coordinator Julia Adams and her husband Rick
  • Sacramento Walk Coordinator Larianne Awbrey Austin
  • Nicole Cardin
  • My husband Noah and me

When you plan a first event of its kind, it is natural to wonder how successful it may be. At one of our first meetings, we discussed if we would be able to raise enough money and get enough people to attend for it to be worth it. We agreed that it was worth a shot and that anything accomplished was better than nothing.

It was exciting and emotional to see the event come to life. Our monthly preparation meetings were full of good planning, ideas, food, wine and friends. Saturday’s big occasion unfolded very naturally, as if we had been doing this for years. I believe the success stems from our passion, commitment, drive, talents and support systems. When you believe and want something to happen, it will. We far surpassed our initial objectives and goals. I am so proud of our accomplishment.

Silent auction table    

Corks for a Cure was a classy, fun and memorable evening featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres, and silent auction and dancing to raise vital funds for a cause near and dear to all of our hearts. The event was held at the beautiful North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks. Because we live in the heart of wine country, our event featured premium wine from Napa Valley all the way to Nevada City. We also had a vintner from Ehlers Estate Winery in attendance doing wine tasting. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we had an extraordinary raffle and silent auction, with nine raffle items worth more than $1,000 and 40 silent auction items worth more than $10,150.

The energy in the room was invigorating, with 175 people in attendance. The event was to end at 10 p.m., and there were still people on the dance floor at 10:30 p.m.! It was a room full of really great, supportive people who were there because they cared and wanted to help. It reminded me of a wedding reception, as everyone was happy and excited to be with one another.

As we kicked off the party with our opening ceremony, you could hear a pin drop. All guests gave us their full attention as Rick shared why we were all there and the importance of raising money for the PKD Foundation. Julia shared some personal sentiments and then introduced the rest of the committee and her daughter to share our connection to PKD and why we are passionate about finding a cure for it. This was very heartfelt, emotional and greatly appreciated by our guests. After this touching moment, we all held up our drinks and the entire room joined us for a toast, a toast to a cure for PKD.

Noah & ValenAs I stood before the guests and next to my husband and other committee members, I was welling up with emotion and beaming with pride. I was proud of all we have overcome, endured and will continue to because of PKD. Proud of what we accomplished, the event we created, and how we are choosing to lead our lives as we help others along our PKD journey. Proud to be living positively with PKD, be a part of the PKD community and have the committee members as dear friends in my life because they are my PKD “silver lining.”

Thanks to our committee, those in attendance and our generous donors, I’m proud to say that Corks for a Cure raised more than $22,000!

Let’s join together and toast to a cure for PKD! Cheers!

ABC10 News interviewed me and Julia to talk about PKD and Corks for a Cure. To watch the interview, visit

Have you organized a local PKD event? If so, I would love to hear about it. Please share below.

To learn more on how you can host a DIY for PKD fundraising event, visit


  1. dominique

    i really wish i coulda been there its good to be around positive energy! looks like a big fun proud event..glad your getting others to become aware of pkd..thanks for all you do!

    • Valen Keefer

      You’re so welcome! I wish you could have been there too Dominique. I agree, as I love to surround myself with positive people and positive things and this event sure was full of positivity. Hope you’re having a great weekend! xo

  2. Karin

    Congratulations!!!!! The interview was amazing!!! You and Julia were so calm while giving all that important information.
    Thank you for all that you do to encourage positivity and awareness:)

    • Valen Keefer

      It is my honor! Thank you so much Karin for your support and sweet sentiments. I appreciate you watching our interview. 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! xo

  3. Nelly DeJesus

    I am 36 years old and I was told yesterday in about 4 more years I will be on dialysis. I am dieing inside. My mother ,grandmother , uncle , alas sedan from this and my 48 year old brother is on dialysis as well. I will be the youngest one in my family on dialysis. Then how long will I live after that. I am so scared. I actually like I am tough in front of my family but I am not. I wish there was something just to at least slow this process down.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Nelly,
      Thank you for sharing your emotions. PKD can be scary and especially when we see loved ones pass and others endure dialysis. The positive is hopefully you can work on lining up getting a kidney transplant and bypass dialysis. I am the youngest in my family to endure such severe side effects from PKD and the first in my family to receive a transplant. I was diagnosed at 10, had both kidneys removed and was on dialysis at 18 and transplant at 19.
      It is normal to have a lot of worry with PKD, because we see what others have endured in our family and know what may happen in our future. The best we can do is take it one day at a time and know that our health is individual and most likely won’t follow the same course as others. It is good to be open about our emotions and I am grateful that you felt comfortable with sharing on my blog. Knowing that you have several years until you’d be on dialysis, if I were in your shoes, I would make it a goal to try and receive a transplant before you get to the point of needing dialysis. Stay strong and try and take it one day at a time, which will hopefully help yourself from stressing about things that are out of your control right now. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you along your journey. Wishing you all the best!


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