As part of CKF’s Patient Ambassador Program, our Patient Ambassador Webinar Series is a way to reach a wider audience and to ensure we’re connecting with this audience (viewers and supporters, like you!) in a safe, efficient way.
April isn’t just National Donate Life Month: for CKF, it’s also when we open nominations for our annual Bounce Back Give Back Awards! Each year, CKF accepts these nominations all month long, from April 1st through April 30th, as part of the Donate Life Month celebrations. Our Bounce Back Give Back Awards are a way for us to highlight two organ transplant recipients who have not only bounced back from transplant, but are also giving back to the transplant community in extraordinary ways—whether that’s through organ donation advocacy, volunteer work, career accomplishments, or simply inspiring others post-transplant.
CKF is hosting a very special Bounce Back Give Back Award webinar, featuring previous Award winners and give them a platform to tell their stories. This will also give those interested in submitting a nomination the chance to ask questions, get feedback, and learn more about the Bounce Back Give Back Awards. Topics covered in this webinar will include:
Valen Cover Keefer was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) at 10 years old and received her first kidney transplant at the age of 19. About five years ago, chronic sepsis led Valen to undergo a second transplant—this time, a new liver. Shortly after her first transplant, Valen began advocating for organ donation. She founded the South Central Pennsylvania chapter of the PKD Foundation and works closely with many nonprofits and OPOs nationwide. An accomplished public speaker, she shares her message of hope through her award-winning biography, My Favorite American.
Valen has shared her story at more than 100 events across North America. She has helped raise over $1,000,000 for PKD research and written over 250 blogs to inspire others with chronic illness and to encourage more people to register as organ donors. Valen is an appointed national spokesperson for the University Kidney Research Organization (UKRO) and, more recently, she was selected to walk the runway as a “Dreamer” for the 2019 DreamWalk Fashion Show in New York City.
At 21 years old, while playing football in college, Edward Drake II was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease. During his time on the transplant waitlist, Edward started a nonprofit organization, the YNOTT? Foundation (Youth Needing Organ & Tissue Transplants), to raise awareness of the importance of kidney health and organ donation, and to assist young transplant recipients emotionally and financially through the transplant process.
Even while awaiting a new kidney and in poor health, Edward became active in the transplant community, participating in speaking engagements with Lifeline Ohio, an OPO serving eastern Ohio, and visited transplant and dialysis patients at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Edward has continued to advocate for organ donation awareness, particularly in the African American community, and has remained committed to this work post-transplant as an ambassador, volunteer, and public speaker.
Tracy Copeland is the founder and president of Sierra Nevada Donor Awareness, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of the importance and tremendous need for more organ and tissue donors nationwide. She is also an avid athlete, participating in the U.S. Transplant Games many times over, representing Team USA for three years of the World Transplant Games, and competing in multiple triathlons and marathons, including the Arizona Ironman.
Tracy was 34 years old when she unexpectedly went into acute liver failure and received a liver transplant from a deceased donor. On the one-year anniversary of her transplant, Tracy met her donor’s family and they have remained close friends ever since. At the 2006 U.S. transplant Games, Tracy received the Outstanding Female Athlete Award with her donor family by her side. She received her second Outstanding Female Athlete Award at the 2011 World Transplant Games in Goteberg, Sweden. In addition to running her own organ donation nonprofit, Tracy is an active volunteer with her local organ procurement organization, Donor Network West.
After landing his dream job as a firefighter and paramedic for the County of Los Angeles, Brian Hinsley was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis and his liver began to fail. He was on the waitlist for two years before receiving his lifesaving transplant. During his time on the waitlist, Brian and his wife, Kim, were the subjects of a documentary, titled “No Greater Love”, that focuses on the increasing need for organ donors in the U.S. After receiving his new liver, Brian became the first firefighter/paramedic ever to return to work after receiving a solid organ transplant.
Brian and Kim are ambassadors for the California organ procurement organization, OneLegacy, and both serve on the steering committee for JJ’s Legacy, an organ donation nonprofit. Brian is a very active public speaker on behalf of organ donation, traveling across the country to speak at schools, support groups, hospitals, and other organizations within the transplant community. Brian also participated in Ride Across America, in which he rode an ATV across the country to promote organ donation. He recently celebrated his 21st liver transplant anniversary last month.
Chris Klug is a three-time Olympic snowboarder and liver transplant recipient from Aspen, Colorado. In 1991, he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare, degenerative liver disease, for which the only cure is a liver transplant. Eighteen months after receiving his lifesaving transplant, Chris won a bronze medal in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games for snowboard racing, making him the first and only organ transplant recipient to compete in the Olympics, winter or summer.
In 2003, Chris founded the Chris Klug Foundation (CKF), a national nonprofit organization based in Aspen, to help save lives through organ donor registration and to encourage healthy, active lifestyles post-transplant. He also wrote about his transplant experience and subsequent journey to the Olympics in his book, “To the Edge and Back: My Story from Organ Transplant Survivor to Olympic Snowboarder.” In addition to working full time in real estate, he now serves as chairman of CKF’s volunteer board and frequently travels with the foundation to share his story with others throughout the United States.