Peaks for PKD Blog
May 09, 2024

Eric Hampel | Voices of PKD

PKD patient Eric Hampel, who first shared his story with us in the fall of 2022, has a new goal ahead of him in 2024: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this October, to raise funds and awareness for PKD. Support his climb, or start your own Peaks for PKD fundraiser, here.


I want to support Peaks for PKD!


My journey with PKD began when I was 18, with a diagnosis that rocked my world. Both my mom and aunt were already living with PKD, so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but it was still a tough pill to swallow. Getting the diagnosis shortly before embarking on my university career was really a change in perspective. I spent my university years pretending my PKD didn't exist, but as I got older, I realized I couldn't just ignore it. That's when I decided to get involved and make a difference.

A Family Affair


PKD has had a significant impact on my family, with both my mom and aunt battling the disease. Luckily, both have recently received kidney transplants and are doing well. Losing my grandfather to PKD at a young age meant that I was robbed of the opportunity to meet him because of this disease. His experience, along with seeing the struggles my mom and aunt face every day, inspired me to take action.

After my diagnosis, I knew I couldn't sit idly by while PKD continued to affect my family and countless others. Volunteering with PKD charities like the PKD Foundation of Canada gave me an outlet to make a difference. Running for PKD charities was another way for me to support the cause while pursuing my passion for fitness and the great outdoors.

Running for PKD

Participating in the Great North Run in 2022 was an incredible experience. It was my first-ever half marathon, and crossing that finish line was a moment I'll never forget. Knowing that I had surpassed my fundraising goal made it even sweeter. It showed me the power of community and the impact we can have when we come together for a cause.

Dreaming of Kili

Eric_1.pngClimbing Mount Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list for over a decade now. It’s one of the world's most iconic climbs. I was recently inspired by a few articles highlighting people combining adventure and charity, and decided that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro would be the next step in my journey to raise awareness and funds for PKD. It's a way for me to push myself outside of my comfort zone while shining a spotlight on this often-overlooked disease. Plus, the opportunity to take on such an iconic challenge is something I couldn't pass up.

Preparation is key when it comes to a challenge like Kilimanjaro. I'll be focusing on building my endurance through a combination of cardio and strength training. This summer and fall will be filled with many big day-long and multi-day hikes, as well. Mentally, I'll be visualizing success and staying focused on my goal of reaching the summit.

My training routine will include long hikes with a heavy pack and the gear I'll be using on the climb, to simulate the experience of Kilimanjaro. I'll also be incorporating strength training to build muscle and improve my overall fitness. Yoga will help me stay centered and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead.

Altitude sickness and extreme weather conditions are two of the biggest challenges I anticipate facing. The altitude can affect your body in unexpected ways, so acclimatization will be crucial. Additionally, navigating the unpredictable weather on the mountain will require careful planning, the right gear, and preparation.


I want to support Peaks for PKD!


Eric_2.pngMy climb is not just about reaching the summit, even though that will be a big achievement; it's about spreading awareness and raising funds for PKD research. By sharing my journey and connecting with others, I hope to inspire people to get involved and support this important cause.

One message I want to convey is that PKD is not just a disease; it's a community. Together, we can make a difference and work towards a future free from PKD. Every dollar raised brings us one step closer to that goal.

One memory that stands out is from a charity run I participated in, where I met a young boy living with PKD. Seeing his resilience and determination despite his diagnosis was incredibly inspiring. It reminded me why I do what I do and motivated me to keep pushing forward. Also, seeing the journey my mother and aunt have gone through with PKD has been inspiring me every day.

My experience with PKD has taught me resilience and determination, qualities that will serve me well on the climb. I'll approach the expedition with a sense of gratitude and perspective, knowing that every step I take is for a greater purpose, as well as raising awareness among my fellow climbers.

Eric_4.png I'll be leaning on my friends, family, and fellow PKD advocates for support during the climb. Their encouragement and belief in me will fuel my determination to reach the summit. In terms of fundraising, I'll be utilizing online platforms and social media to spread the word and engage with potential donors.

My main goal is to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro and raise as much awareness and funds for PKD as possible along the way. I'll be tracking my progress and celebrating milestones like reaching fundraising targets, completing training hikes, and reaching various milestones along the 9-day climb.

I'll be sharing regular updates and photos on social media to keep everyone informed and engaged. I want people to feel like they're part of the journey and to see the impact their support is having in real-time.

I want to support Peaks for PKD!

To anyone living with PKD or facing challenges of their own, I want to say this: Don't give up! Looking at my personal experience and that of my mother and aunt, it is still possible to live a fulfilling life with PKD. Stay strong, stay hopeful, and never give up.

Community and support networks are absolutely crucial when it comes to dealing with PKD and taking on challenges like climbing Kilimanjaro. Surrounding yourself with people who understand what you're going through and who believe in your ability to succeed can make all the difference.

Eric_3.png I hope that my climb will shine a spotlight on PKD and inspire others to get involved and support the cause. By sharing my journey and raising awareness, we can make PKD a priority and accelerate research efforts towards finding a cure.

I've been fortunate to have the support of many incredible individuals and organizations throughout my PKD advocacy work and climb preparations. The PKD Foundation of Canada has been invaluable in supporting me on this journey so far. From family and friends to PKD charities and fellow climbers, their encouragement and support have been invaluable every step of the way.

Personally, I hope to prove to myself that anything is possible with determination and perseverance. Professionally, I hope to use my climb as a platform to raise awareness and funds for PKD research. Ultimately, I see it as a stepping stone towards my broader goal of making a meaningful impact in the fight against PKD.

Eric Hampel, May 2024

Read Eric's Peaks for PKD blog, here.

I want to support Peaks for PKD!