Every wedding is a little different – some couples jump over brooms, break glasses or wear blue. For Karli and Cuyler Franzke, an age-old wedding tradition turned into an opportunity to raise funds to support the PKD Foundation. Several weeks before her wedding, Karli and her mother hatched a plan that they kept secret until the big day arrived.
At the wedding reception, when guests began to clink their glasses to signal the bride and groom to share a kiss, Karli stood up and made an unexpected announcement. They would kiss for the crowd, but in exchange for donations to the PKD Foundation. Because of her close relationship with her cousin Brandon and his father Joe, both of whom are diagnosed with the disease, “PKD Kisses,” seemed like a perfect idea.
“My cousin Brandon was the first person to donate. He literally sprinted to the basket with money in his hand!” Karli said. “You could tell the whole family was surprised, and a little emotional. It was heartwarming to see.”
While Karli and Cuyler’s kisses raised more than $400 in donations for the PKD Foundation, they also raised invaluable awareness to everyone who was present in the audience, many of whom had never heard of polycystic kidney disease before.
“We had several people come up and ask us questions about PKD after Karli made her announcement,” Brandon’s mother Lonnie Loritz said. “It was very much a way to spread awareness.”
While the newly wedded couple is typically the focus of a wedding reception, Karli feels that supporting her family and the fight against PKD on her special day couldn’t have been more important.
“Our family is really tightknit, and any way we can help them, we’re going to do that,” Karli said. “I didn’t give it a second thought.”
The family hopes “PKD Kisses” will become a new tradition for future weddings, where both funds and awareness are raised for PKD.
“When you’re asking for donations for an organization, it makes such a difference to people when you are linked on a personal level,” Karli said. “And it makes it fun to donate. Everyone wanted us to kiss anyway, so why not get paid for it?”
Like Karli, you too can make your wedding or momentous occasion even more meaningful by incorporating ways to support the PKD Foundation. Ask for gifts to the Foundation in lieu of wedding presents. Instead of party favors, make a gift to help end PKD. Or, start new wedding traditions like Karli’s, and help make a difference in the lives of millions affected by PKD.