Mike Brazell’s Cowboys

I’ve known since I was a freshman in college that I have PKD, but I didn’t do much about it until my first cousin, Mike Brazell, died of PKD complications at the age of 35. It happened two Decembers ago, and it was a terrible shock. I decided I could no longer afford to be complacent about this disease.

So I invited Mike’s closest relatives to join a team, “Mike Brazell’s Cowboys,” and take part in the PKD Foundation’s Walk for the Cure.

We call ourselves the Cowboys because Mike loved the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not a Cowboy fan, but I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan — so no matter how important Mike’s memory is to me, I couldn’t call our team the Yankees. It’s the Cowboys by default.
A year ago September saw the first PKD Walk in Albany, NY, and Mike Brazell’s Cowboys were there. There were 30 of us, and we raised more than $6,000. Mike’s mom, dad, sister, widow, son and daughter all walked.

This year we walked again — and we raised more than $14,400. We had a fantastic time.

Some of our fellow Walkers are reluctant to ask their friends to contribute. And I can understand why: it’s uncomfortable, and it makes it clear that we need each other — none of us stands alone. Plus, if your friend declines, you have to deal with the interesting feelings that arise in your gut.

But asking for support, and receiving it, can also be deeply satisfying.

Here’s what my friend Bernhard wrote, when I thanked him and his new Italian bride Christina for their generosity:

“I’m so happy to hear the day was such a resounding success. We are
honored to be a small part. Mainly, our reasons are selfish. We want
you and your family healthy and safe from harm. Please keep us
informed on the latest developments with the foundation, and you!”

If I hadn’t asked for their help, I’d never have known that they felt that way. And now my day is brighter than it would otherwise have been.

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