Archive for the ‘renal’ Category

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

All around the country, we’re gearing up for the 2010 Walk for PKD. I’ll be at the one in Connecticut on October 9th, and then the one in New York City on October 24th. And my manager’s old friend Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit and of the delightful uncorporation known as Breadpig, is inviting people to help us out. Thank you, Alexis!

Please help Alexis help us raise the money we need to cure PKD. Check out my fundraising page — see me in costume, holding my manager’s baby girl — and donate today!

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Last Saturday I was thrilled to attend the Hudson Valley Walk for PKD in Bedford Hills. What a wonderful place. The Walk was so well organized — thank you, Sam Friedlander, Heidi Cambareri, and many, many others — that everyone could relax and just have fun. Plenty of food came from Shop-Rite and Whole Foods. And as always at a PKD event, there was plenty of bottled water.

Of course we weren’t there just to have fun – but to help cure PKD. And Hudson Valley certainly did its part, bringing in more than $60,000 by the day of the Walk – and still counting!

At center is Luke Sclater-Booth, a young boy dealing with ARPKD, the brutal recessive form of PKD. At right is Stuart, Luke’s dad. Stuart donated a kidney to Luke a couple of years ago. Luke’s team, led by his mom Kirsten, helped raise more than $9,000 for research.

This Imperial Stormtrooper donated a kidney to a friend back in April. Did I feel jealous when some of the kids were more eager to talk to him than to me? You bet. Would I have made the same choice, if I was 10? You bet I would. Who doesn’t love a stormtrooper?

This motorcycle club came together to support one of their own: The woman in the white T-shirt. And in so doing, they made PKD, for just a few moments, seem cool.

Even idyllic Bedford Hills, NY, is not exempt from profiling.

Heidi Cambareri, at left, put on the Hudson Valley Walk for five years before passing the torch this year. Heidi and my manager’s wife, Victoria Brazell (center, great with child), are just two of the many wonderful people who came out to Walk for PKD. Thanks, everyone!! We’ll see some of you in Manhattan on October 25th!  – Kenny

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I spent most of Sunday, June 14th walking around the World Science Festival Street Fair in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, amid the only sun most of us have seen all month.

What a renal blast. Here are a couple of highlights:

Me and Digit, a character from the PBS show Cyberchase.

Standing with two kids who kept pushing into my fabric, saying, "Squishie!", giggling, and running away.

Standing with three happy fans

Standing with three more happy fans

Hello from the Washington Square Park Arch

Thumbs up with Sid the Science Kid (also from PBS's Cyberchase)

With a friendly World Science Festival staffer

In front of the World Science Festival logo. Thanks, WSF - and particularly Peter Downing and Susan Magnano - for inviting me back this year! You do wonderful work, and I had a great time!

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

On Friday evening, March 27th, I was honored to attend a community-service event at New Jersey’s Westwood Regional High School. There I met a rare breed of students, who gave up a Friday night of sneaking around behind their parents’ kidneys to pollute their own. Instead they opted to describe their work on projects important to them — educating displaced kids in Iraq, fighting autism, saving what’s left of the planet, and, in the case of Ramy Youssef, curing PKD.

Here are a few of these great kids:


Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Not long ago, bestselling author, Emmy-Award-winning actor and longtime talk-show host Charles Grodin gave of his time and himself to help fight PKD. My manager was thrilled to meet him at the Manhattan party, and was honored to introduce him, as you can see here: 

One of the unusual things about the generous Mr. Grodin is that he doesn’t mind being insulted. But we’ll let him illustrate that:Mr. Grodin did a wonderful thing by volunteering his time. He brought laughter and fun to an evening that brought together a number of good people who hadn’t seen each other in years. And it was all to benefit PKD research — the research that will one day keep my brother and sister kidneys from getting too big for their britches.

Charles was kind enough to mention our event in his NY Daily News column: 

Good reasons to leave the house

He also told a reporter from the Stamford Advocate about us, in a story that was picked up by

CBS Film series  features Grodin, ‘Midnight Run’

Charles spoke movingly at the event about losing his father to renal failure. He understands the importance of kidneys. The event was hosted by the very generous people at Select Office Suites, who donated not only the space but the labor of several employees. Thank you, Ray Lindenberg, Angela Olivo, Claire Karwan-Cutting, Dominick Olivo, Luz Estella, and everyone else at SOS for helping make this event wonderful! Thank you, Louis Collier and family for making it all work. Thank you, Kathy Leeds, for putting us in touch with Mr. Grodin. Thank you, Carolyn Brewer, for putting us in touch with Kathy Leeds. And thank you, Mr. Grodin, for making us laugh, and sharing your time with a cause you’d never heard of before. We were already big fans of yours — now we’re even more fanatical. All footage shot by my manager’s wife, the lovely and talented Victoria Brewer.  — Kenny

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Thanks to thousands of renally generous people all over the country, the 2008 Walk for PKD has been a big success — and Los Angeles has yet to Walk. I was fortunate enough to walk for a couple of teams this year. I captained “Mike & Poppy’s All-Stars,” which walked in Albany, NY, on September 21st, while my manager was on his honeymoon. (He and his bride Victoria walked an extra mile in Tanzania that day, then joined the TriState Walk in Manhattan this past Saturday, October 18th.) I’m thrilled to report that “Mike & Poppy’s All-Stars” brought in more than $27,392 — and we may see a few more donations trickle in before the deadline of November 9th. If you’d like to help us out, we’d love it! Please click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy the photos. Here they are — look at this wonderful team:

From left, that’s Colin Brazell (cousin of Mike Brazell, nephew of Poppy), with Drew Rafferty (nephew of Mike Brazell, grandson of Poppy) on his shoulder; Carol Warburton (friend of Colin and family); Tracy Rafferty (sister of Mike Brazell and daughter of Poppy); Mike McCullough (stepson of Poppy); Lynn Schramm (mother of Mike Brazell); Dan Bouchard (longtime friend and co-worker of Poppy and Mike Brazell); Rachel Brazell; Lew Krupke (longtime friend of Poppy); Mary McLear (stepdaughter of Poppy); Wendy McCullough (wife of Mike McCullough); Linda Brazell (who stepped up to make the Albany Walk happen; she’s also my manager’s mother); two people I can’t identify; Kristin Burns; one person I can’t identify; Alan Connelly (cousin of Mike and Poppy); Julie Connelly (Alan’s daughter); Betty Connelly (Alan’s wife; Julie’s mom); another person I can’t identify; Mary Ann Brazell (Mike’s cousin; Poppy’s niece); and Mary Ann is holding her daughter Claire.

Front row, from left:  J.T. Rafferty (Mike Brazell’s nephew; Poppy’s grandson); Carter Brazell (Mike Brazell’s son; Poppy’s grandson); Denise and Devin Brazell (Mike Brazell’s widow and daughter); Mary Burns (cousin of Poppy and Mike); Brian Campbell (cousin-in-law of Mike and nephew-in-law of Poppy; married to Mary Ann Brazell); their daughters Elizabeth Campbell and Fiona Campbell.

Colin, Victoria and me at the TriState Walk. Victoria and I are proud honorary members of the “Los SOS PisKaDillos” team, which raised an awe-inspiring $1,000 for PKD research. Thanks, guys!!


Most of Los SOS PisKaDillos, including, from left: Michelle Calderon, Claire Karwan-Cutting, Linda Brazell (my manager’s mom), Colin Brazell (manager’s brother), Victoria Brewer (manager’s wife), team captain John Shankman, Henny D. Penguin, me,and several others, including, in no particular order, Evelyn Susara, Francia Gomez, SOS Manager Ray Lindenberg, Elizabeth Rampon and Bertha Misteroni. Also there that day: Ceasar Bagui, Dominic Olivo and Heather Maisto. We had a fantastic time. Can’t tell you how much it meant to me to see all the great people of SOS coming out for the Walk on a blustery day.

Thank you so much to the great team at SOS! Los PisKaDillos were there in force!  — Kenny

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Check out this offer from PKD Foundation board member Gary DeGrande, a renal human who’s always looking for new ways to raise money for PKD research:

“We’re offering two weeks in our cozy country cottage home near Paris and one week in a four-bedroom luxury home in the Dominican Republic to the highest bidder. These homes provide unique vacation opportunities and have been donated, so all of the winning bid goes directly to the PKD Foundation. Both homes are listed on the popular VacationRentalByOwner website, so check them out at : ID 131432 for the French home and ID 148384 for the Dominican Republic home.

“The opening bid for each home is $1000, with subsequent bids at $500 increments. The referenced websites contain lots of  info and photos; for further details and to place a bid, contact Gary at or call 651 653 3958.  Please feel free to spread the word to your traveling friends. Thanks for your help.”

I’d go myself, but the presence of a giant kidney might upset the neighbors. So you should go in my place, & tell me how it was! — Kenny

Monday, September 1st, 2008

My manager’s working to get the word out about the annual Walk for PKD. The Walk is a critical source of the funding that will one day cure me of these pesky cysts, and free up my 26 million brothers and sisters all over the world, restoring them to comfortable function. I’ll be Walking in Manhattan with a number of interested humans on Saturday morning, October 18th. Join us!

Please support us by clicking right here.

Thank you!!  — Kenny

Friday, August 1st, 2008

My manager’s Google alert, which sends him each week a list of stories around the world that contain the phrase “polycystic kidney disease,” told him a few months ago about a novel whose main character has PKD. Guardedly curious, he found a used copy on Amazon for cheap. Before long we were both enjoying the book on many levels — I reading it when he was busy, and vice versa.

One of the functions of art is to convey the feeling that someone else has felt what we have felt — that we’re not alone in our fear, our anger, our lust, our sadness, or whatever feelings make us feel out of step with the expressions we see on the faces of the people around us. And one of the things that’s difficult about PKD is that so few people have ever heard of it. It can be lonely, having cysts. (And lonelier still being a giant kidney with cysts. It’s rare for me even to run into a giant kidney without cysts.)

What a pleasure, then, to read a clever, thoughtful, poignant novel whose narrator is dealing with the same cysts that trouble me. His mother died young of PKD, as many of my manager’s relatives have done. The narrator’s trips to dialysis; the annoying and sometimes desperate attention he has to pay to his diet; his constant awareness of the shortage of kidneys for those who need them; his upset feelings that so few of his friends are willing to donate their organs even after their deaths; the dark impulses he feels as he watches a motorcyclist and imagines him falling, dying, giving up at last the kidney the narrator so desperately needs: for a person with PKD, to read “The Waters of Thirst” is to feel understood.
And understood in a way that is actually fun. For the novel contains a multitude of pleasures. The narrative voice is consistently funny, often causing this reader to smile and sometimes laugh out loud at tidbits that had nothing to do with PKD. The narrator, a young gay Londoner during the late 1980s or early 1990s, meshes intimations of PKD-borne mortality with those same intimations delivered then by AIDS — and eventually, surprisingly, folds them together. Both diseases waste people’s energy and can take people when they’re quite young — too young, in the popular imagination, to die. Of course there’s no such thing as too young to die, but young deaths hurt us more, scare us more and cause more grief than the deaths of those old enough to have had many turns at the plate. Years ago my manager visited a man once a week for nine months as that man died of AIDS, and will never forget the way the virus destroyed him. Nor will he forget watching people he loved his whole life die of PKD.

The brilliance of Mars-Jones is his refusal either to avoid the facts of early death or to hammer them too hard. Throughout the very funny descriptions of gay porn, the eggshell-thin etiquette of dinner parties, and the dissolution of the narrator’s relationship with the loyal and likeable Terry, humor is never more than a phrase away. Here’s Mars-Jones on those motorcyclists (being British, he splits the word “motorcyclists” in two. As Mark Twain nearly said, foreigners always pronounce better than they spell):

“I mean, every vehicle is a potential accident, I realise that, but motor cyclists really are organ donors-in-waiting. A dab of grease or a handful of gravel, and a motor bike just wants a good lie down. … As time went by, I found my eyes were drawn to the rear contours of bikers’ leather jackets. The handbook recommended wearing a jacket with an extra panel of padding at waist level. It was for kidney protection. My immediate reaction was, oh yes, protect those kidneys. We don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Regardless of his motives, I wholeheartedly approve of the narrator’s urge to protect the kidneys of total strangers. I do wish more people felt as he does.

American humans are not nearly as familiar with the name Adam Mars-Jones as they should be. “The Waters of Thirst” is a marvelous book. My biases are obvious, but whether your kidneys make too many cysts or just the right number, if you’re not afraid to read descriptions of gay porn — a recurring and consistently hilarious theme — then by all means read this book. (If you can find a copy, that is: Amazon and B&N offer only used copies. That’s a real shame. This book should certainly still be in print. It’s a masterpiece.) — Kenny

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I spent a chunk of Saturday at the street fair of the first-ever World Science Festival, talking with kids and their parents about PKD.

I was happy to meet Miss Frizzle:

She was right near the Magic School Bus:

Also happy to meet Digit, of PBS’s Cyberchase:

And to spend a little quality time with my manager’s fiancée (please don’t tell him!):

We also saw two cool discussions — one on the origins of the universe (“Echoes from the Beginning”), and one on What It Means to Be Human. After the “Human” one (sounds like it’s easier being a kidney), I got to shake the hand of the renal Francis Collins, and thank him for his steadfast support of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, which passed recently with his help. Dr. Collins has been a great ally for PKD over the years. So has Alan Alda, who I tried but failed to greet.

Many thanks to organizers Brian Greene and Tracy Day, and producers Susan Magnano and Peter Downing, for inviting me to stop by. A great time was had by all kidneys and most humans. — Kenny