Mike, Ella and Griffin PickettMike Pickett plays golf for a living, so organizing a golf tournament to memorialize his mother, Mary, seemed the natural thing to do to honor her and to raise awareness for PKD.

Though Mary quietly battled PKD most of her life, she taught her son to always “fight the good fight” as she did, until she passed away in December 2014.

Even so, finding out three years ago that he and his daughter, Ella, 9, inherited PKD, rocked Mike’s world.

“I freaked out. I’d had a couple of kidney stones, but I thought those were common. My mother never discussed her PKD. As a parent of a child with PKD, it was hard to deal with the fact that I passed on this life-threatening disease to my child.”

Out of his heartache came an ephiphany.

“I realized that we should all be living each day as if it’s our last. I look at life differently now. My mother taught us all to never give up in anything we do. I’m passing that mindset and legacy onto my children. It’s given me a lot of peace in the face of a difficult situation.”

Though he’s a well-known golf professional in Highland Heights, Ohio, Mike, 34, had never attempted to organize an event on the scale of the Inaugural Mary Pickett Memorial Charity Invitational event in August. He was anxious about how it would go.

“The moment I sent out the initial appeal email about the fundraiser, I was bombarded with replies from people wanting to sign up and sponsor. It was incredible.”

The sold-out event also included a banquet, hole contests, and an “ultimate dream” raffle for foursome rounds of golf at 12 of the region’s most exclusive golf courses, generously donated through Mike’s many contacts in the golfing community. In all, the tournament raised $15,000. Mike has a 5-year plan to grow the annual event, with a fundraising target of $250,000 in mind.

“I’ve learned that people don’t participate in charity tournaments for the golf, or because of PKD, but because they care about me and my family and want to help. It’s overwhelming.”

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