August 21, 2012

A Fight to End PKD

We are a short 12 (TWELVE!!!) days away from beginning our cross-country roadtrip (Part I, Part II,Part III) that precedes our one-way flight to India! Our roadtrip includes a stop in Cleveland to see our friends Emily and Terry. Terry is one of Tom's best friends from college and was even the best man at our wedding. Terry has always been one of my favorite people, so it sweetened our friendship even more when, several years ago, he introduced us to his new girlfriend, Emily. To say that we loved her instantly is no exaggeration. And, just like that, one of our favorite people became one half of one of our favorite couples, and we were thrilled when they got engaged and planned their wedding for October 1, 2011.
Terry and Emily at our wedding

Here's the story: A few months before they got married, Emily's dad, Mr. Baldauf found out that, due to the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) he'd known about for most of his life, he required a kidney transplant. A little about PKD: PKD is the most common of all life-threatening genetic diseases, affecting more people than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia and Huntington’s disease combined! More than half of all people with PKD will end up in kidney failure and have to rely upon dialysis or transplant to survive. Obviously, this was news Mr. Baldauf had always dreaded hearing, but it was made doubly difficult with the timing right before his youngest daughter's wedding. Meanwhile, Terry's father, Mr. Parmelee, was talking about Mr. Baldauf's need for a kidney donor to friends during a weekend hunting trip. Out of the blue, an amazingly generous and kind friend of the Parmelee family, Bret Williams, found he was a good match and offered the life-saving gift of one of his kidneys to Mr. Baldauf, someone he had never met. In October 2011, just a week after Terry and Emily's amazing wedding, Bret and Mr. Baldauf went into surgery, saving Mr. Baldauf's life and forever endearing Bret in the hearts of the Baldaufs, the Parmelees, and certainly our's. How amazing is it that Emily and Terry's relationship LITERALLY saved her father's life?
Bret and Mr. Baldauf at their post-transplant check-up.
Looking good!
Sadly, many people battling this disease are not so fortunate to find a kidney donor in time. And, while Mr. Baldauf (and Bret) are both doing great, the battle against PKD doesn't end there for the Baldaufs, as there is a 50% chance of inheritance from an affected parent making this a very prevalent family disease. In fact, the Baldauf family has been battling this disease for 7 generations! That means that our dear friend Emily and her 2 siblings are at risk, as are the future biological children of Emily and Terry, two of our most favorite people.

This year, Emily is helping to organize the Walk for PKD, the PKD Foundation’s signature fundraising event, in Northeast Ohio. We were thrilled that, when we told Terry and Emily the days we'll be passing through Cleveland, that the walk is happening while we're there! Terry and Emily have AWESOME friends (obviously), and we soon found out we weren't the only friends making the trek to Cleveland to participate in the walk in support of and in honor of the Baldaufs, so Emily asked if I would head-up the "friends" team. OF COURSE! And that's how our team, Sweating Our Baldauf, came together!

So now, Tom and I are raising money for this walk and I hope you'll be able to help us out. Even the smallest donation helps us reach our goal and brings us closer to advancing necessary treatments to patients with PKD.

How do you donate? Visit THIS LINK. Still not sure how? Let me help you out!

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