October 14, 2023

A Family Affair

The Fort Erie team, A Family Affair, has raised more than $8,000 this year for the Toronto Walk to END PKD. How did they manage to raise such a large amount? Do they have any suggestions for other families wanting to do the same thing? Continue reading their story, as told by Blair Hampel, for fundraising tips and advice.

Blair_1_blog.pngI am connected to PKD by having the disease myself, while also having a family lineage of PKD, which is what inspired our team’s name, “A Family Affair”.

PKD runs in our family over several generations, starting with my grandfather, who died of PKD at age 35. My mother and aunt both have PKD, as well as my brother and myself.

Our team began fundraising several years ago through the Walk to END PKD. In addition, my mother and my aunt began organizing an annual garage sale fundraiser to raise funds for PKD. It had its sixth year this year (with a couple of years’ pause, due to COVID-19).

Raising funds for PKD has a very personal side for me, because without finding a cure for PKD, I know what my future will be – from reduction in my kidney function and growth of the cysts, to dialysis and the hope of a transplant.

Blair_2_blog.pngI have watched PKD develop first-hand in both my aunt and mother. My aunt was on dialysis for several years, had one kidney removed, had an aneurism, and fortunately found an organ match this past year and received a transplant in the spring.

My mother also had a kidney removed this spring. She began dialysis right afterwards, and has found a kidney donor in a lifelong friend. They are doing a paired-organ donation, and are waiting to find a suitable match for my mother, while her friend will give her kidney to the paired match.

So for me, watching both of them live through life with PKD, I’ve seen first-hand what PKD looks like, and what my future holds without a cure.

Furthermore, because of PKD, my mother and aunt lost a father while they were young children, and he is a grandfather, and person I never got to meet.

Therefore, I feel for myself, my family, and all those living with PKD that it is important to raise funds and awareness, and get our story out there.

Blair_4_blog.pngAlthough the majority of the funds showed under my name for this year’s Walk to END PKD, I cannot take the credit for it all.

The funds from the garage sale were raised as a major collective effort, with many, many family and friends helping out, to make the garage sale the success it was. My mother and my aunt are the true heroes for the garage sale, by beginning it many years ago, as well as this past year getting their story in the local Fort Erie paper to share their PKD journeys, and promote the garage sale.

This inspired many people from across the community to show up, and even if they did not make purchases, they would make donations, and give words of support.

The story also inspired the local Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 230, to hold a garage sale themselves the same day, with all the funds donated to PKD as well.

So the funds we raised this year were helped by getting our story out to the community, and inspiring people to come out and support PKD – maybe take home a newfound treasure – and share their words of hope, support and encouragement.

When we counted our totals, we were well above anything we ever imagined or hoped for – with over $7000 raised from the garage sale, and another approximately $1000 raised in support for the Walk to END PKD.

I think the biggest thing we learned (and what many people commented on) was getting the story out in the community. By people reading the two articles in the local paper before the garage sale, many were amazed to learn of PKD, that our family had it, and wanted to show up to support.

Blair_3_blog.pngThroughout the two days of the garage sale, many people showed up who had known my mother and aunt for years. They were unaware that they had PKD, and how much they had been through. They were also amazed that both were recently off surgeries (one getting and one losing a kidney), as well as having dialysis, and that they were doing as well as they were – keeping such a positive attitude, good spirits, and a sense of humour.

Additionally, the number of people who showed up to tell their personal stories of transplants – whether their own, or someone close to them – was inspiring and very moving. As these people read the stories, they wanted to come out and support our efforts to raise funds for PKD, and tell their own personal stories, and offer encouragement and support.

So getting peoples stories out in the community can work wonders in raising funds and support. In addition to the local newspaper, I and several others shared our fundraising page for both the garage sale and the Walk to END PKD on social media platforms, which helped spread the story to more people that we are connected with online, bringing in additional funds and awareness.

The garage sale was our primary fundraiser this year, but we also raised additional funds for the Walk to END PKD, especially from people who were unable to support the garage sale.

The size of the donations varied greatly, especially during the garage sale. There were some people who came who had very little to offer, especially in these hard economic times, but wanted to be able to support the best they could, and there were also people who came out and made significant donations as well. All donations big and small were extremely appreciated, and help bring us closer to a cure.