Afflicted senior stirs $60K for PKD

Lazarus spearheads Meriden walk for kidney disease

By on October 12, 2010

This past Saturday was quite a day to walk in the park, with clear autumn skies and a light breeze allowing passersby the chance to enjoy the outdoors. However, at Hubbard Park in Meriden, this was no ordinary walk.

This was the Connecticut Walk for PKD, a fundraising event intended to support research to find treatment or a cure for polycystic kidney disease. The efforts were not only meant to raise money, but to spread education, awareness and hope to all those who may be affected by PKD. More than 250 people participated in the three-quarter mile walk coordinated by Quinnipiac senior Jaime Lazarus, who was diagnosed with PKD in August of 2009.

According to preliminary numbers, the donations for the walk exceed $60,000, which would well eclipse the goal of $50,000 set by the Connecticut Chapter of the PKD Foundation.

In the opening ceremony of the event, Sen. Thomas Gaffey declared Oct. 9 as “PKD Awareness Day” throughout Connecticut. After the walk, participants were treated to entertainment by DJ John Voket and Milford-based band Root 8, as well as other family activities such as a Penny Kids Dash.

PKD is a genetic disorder in which multiple cysts grow on the kidneys that enlarge them due to fluid build-up, possibly resulting in kidney failure. There is presently no cure available. In the U.S. alone, 600,000 people have been diagnosed with PKD.

“I was inspired to get involved after standing by mother’s side since I was very young as she struggled with the effects of PKD,” Lazarus said. “After her kidneys failed during final’s week of my freshman year, I coordinated a fundraiser for her which led me to want to do even more, not just for my own family, but also for the over 7,000 people in the state of Connecticut who have also been diagnosed.”

Lazarus’ family is heavily affected by the disease, as her mother, cousin, grandfather, and great-grandfather have all been diagnosed at one point. Since the disease is genetic, a child has a 50 percent probability of developing PKD if one parent already has it.

“The PKD Foundation continues to raise money to fund essential research which can be seen in the numerous progressive clinical studies that are being done, to see if they can reduce or eliminate the growths of cysts on the kidneys,” Lazarus said. “They are also moving forward in advocacy and educational efforts in order to raise awareness of PKD and aid those suffering with the disease.”

Lazarus is presently in the process of coordinating with other foundation members in an effort to create an international PKD movement that could potentially launch as early as next year.

“This year, Quinnipiac’s support has been overwhelming,” Lazarus said. “Professors, faculty members and students have shown overwhelming financial and volunteer involvement. I would especially like to thank the girls of Phi Sigma Sigma who volunteered and were a tremendous help on the day of the event.”

The PKD Foundation has a national goal to raise $3 million through Walk for PKD, and has thus far risen more than $1.8 million, according to their website www.pkdcure.org.

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