In addition to the foundation, Valen is a Donate Life ambassador. Her goal as an ambassador is to have people sign up and to become organ donors.
In 2010, she and her husband, Noah, took a month off and drove across the U.S. to their now home of Auburn, Calif. They were able to stop at many locations along the way and sightsee. It was an amazing experience for Valen as she hasn’t been able to travel much before, because of her condition.
Since their move to Auburn, she has gotten involved with UKRO.
“They had heard my story and about all the volunteer work I have done with various organizations; from that they reached out to me,” she said. “It’s really great what they are doing. Their goal, mission and vision are to have the first kidney research center on the West Coast. The center would help with diabetes, PKD and everything else geared towards kidney disease.”
With all her accomplishments and the ability to push on and encourage others, Dennis McCloskey wrote a biography about her in 2008 titled My Favorite American—since he is from Canada the title is self-explanatory.
“Dennis had written an article about me and really liked my story,” she said. “About a year later, he wrote an article about my life in a Canadian magazine. Everybody kind of jokingly yet seriously said ‘you have to write a book on this girl.’”
In 2007, after Valen beat yet another challenge, a motorcycle accident, McCloskey wanted to be the one to write her biography. He came down, interviewed everyone involved in Valen’s life, from her family to the doctors that played a key role in her life.
“The book is how it took all of us to get me to where I am today,” she said. “It has inspired many people that I don’t even know and I will never meet. I think it’s great that my story will live on long after I am gone.”
Her passion is helping others, hiking and traveling. Because she wasn’t able to do much during her childhood and teen years, she is living it up as much as she can right now.
“I learned of my love for hiking once we moved out here, in the Foothills,” she said. “To me, when I get out there, it’s my escape. I don’t think about my challenges. I am enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us. It clears my mind and is my therapy. It’s just my husband and I out here, because our whole family is back home, so this is something that we enjoy together.”
Her words of advice. “You are your own best advocate. Learn as much as you can and ask a ton of questions. Get involved; volunteer. Stay healthy; stay strong, especially mentally. Remain positive, smile and never lose hope.”