Zip On

“Brakes set for Valen. Brakes set for Valen,” said one of our zip-lining tour guides from his walkie-talkie. He was standing on a platform way off in the distance, which was my destination.

I was in my harness dangling from a zipline when one of our other tour guides replied, “Zippin’ Valen, zippin’ Valen.” My legs were kicking back and forth like a little kid as he asked, “Are you ready?” With shear excitement I exclaimed, “Yes!”


The brakes were released and off I soared on a new adventure. We were at Flyin’ Hawaiian zipline in Maui, which is the longest, highest and fastest zipline course on the island. We went on 8 ziplines ranging from a 250 ft. warm-up to a 3,600 ft. joy ride, in which I reached a speed of around 70 mph! The adventure included ATV riding, hiking and over 2.5 miles of ziplining. We soaked in breathtaking views of the island as we crossed 9 valleys and 11 ridges. Our adventure began and ended in two towns.

Before we went on this awesome thrill ride, we had to sign release paperwork. I compared it to the documents I would sign before a medical procedure. The ones in which you agree that if you are severely injured or die, you are ok with it. They had back issues, heart condition, high blood pressure, history of seizures, etc. I chuckled as my answer was yes to three-quarters of the health conditions they stated. Well, you only live once! However, there was one point where I wondered what the heck I was doing and looked at Noah and said, “I know this was my idea.” It is what I wanted to do to celebrate my 10-year kidney transplant anniversary. Nine years was parasailing; 10 years was ziplining. Time will tell what I will get myself into for 11 years!

As we zipped from one line to the next, there was one constant: a huge smile on my face. I was trying something new. Exploring. Adventuring. Soaking in another healthy day. When I think back to those five amazing hours, there was one thing I did not do. I did not once think about having polycystic kidney disease, or that I had a kidney transplant. The thought of me taking 20 pills a day to stay alive, never crossed my mind, or the odds of me needing another kidney some day are almost certain. I had no worries. I was flyin’ high on life.

At one zipline they asked us if we wanted to zip backwards. Instead of thinking why would I want to do that, I thought why would I NOT want to do that. So as you can guess, I said yes. Since this was a shorter one, they said if we wanted to we could lean back and let our arms off of the handle bar. As they released the brakes, I flew backwards through the air with no view of where I was headed. I leaned back, let my arms go, and looked up at the beautiful blue Hawaiian sky with a sense that everything was going to be ok. It was peaceful, calming and rejuvenating all at the same time.

Like this one zipline experience, we don’t know what lies ahead for all of us. I believe if we could try and let go, take a deep breath as we look upwards at the beautiful sky and trust that everything is going to be ok, it would make some of the challenging times in our lives a lot easier. I will forever remember that feeling as I soared freely through the sky. No matter what challenges lie before me, I will continue to zip on.



  1. Lisa Dalto

    I love this blog! I look forward to my chance to fly high on a zipline with a huge smile on my face, too! What a wonderful experience to share. THANK YOU and keep flying high, Valen!

    • Valen Keefer

      Aww thank you so much Lisa! It was amazing and I can’t wait for you to experience it some day. Hopefully soon! 🙂 It was such a freeing and magical experience. I screamed and smiled a lot! 🙂 xoxo

      • Ann

        I had a kidney and liver transplant almost two years ago. I’m looking at zip lining and one place I’m looking at states I can’t because of a kidney transplant. Does anyone know why that would be an issue?

  2. Scott Hill

    So cool, thanks for sharing your experience on this blog. Ziplining is a great adventure indeed, especially if you go for it in a scenic place. You should try ziplining in Hawaii Big Island if you do visit there sometime. Trust me the view and experience on a whole is so breathtaking, you’ll love it. If you do come this side, do visit Botanical World Adventures, would love to meet you guys in person there.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Scott,
      We’ve never been to the big island, but would love to! Do you have PKD? Thanks for the comment and hopefully our paths will cross some day. Take care.


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