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Saintsation Kriste spoke at Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation's Leadership Conference

By Annie Hills

Photos of 2014 New Orleans Saintsations Kriste. New Orleans Saints photos.

Saintsation Kriste was a guest speaker at the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation's Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Mo., from Feb. 20-22. There were more than 100 people in attendance; two representatives from each state and some representatives from Canada. Attendees were chapter coordinators and leaders across the country with goals of updating each other on ongoing kidney research and continuing to raise awareness of PKD.

Kriste wants people to know that kidney disease kills more than 90,000 Americans per year, which is more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined. Kriste, 41, has been diagnosed with PKD for 15 years. After having PKD for 10 years, she believed she was guilty of not spreading awareness of the disease when she still had friends that did not know she was living with PKD. After talking to fellow Saintsations, one of the other Saintsations learned that her grandmother was diagnosed with PKD. Starting the conversation and spreading awareness of the disease are what matter most to Kriste during her involvement with the PKD Foundation.

"It was my first time speaking at anything like that and I was nervous. I spoke for about 30 minutes and told my personal story," Kriste said. "Once my mom had the disease and had the kidney transplant, that's when I changed the way I live. I now drink two liters of water per day and it has been shown that drinking a lot of water actually helps."

Kriste was asked at the leadership conference to emcee during the National Convention in June 2016 in Orlando where there will also be patients, doctors and people looking to help spread awareness about PKD. She has been participating in the PKD Foundation's 31 Days of PKD Challenges in honor of March's National Kidney Month. Today Kriste plans to complete the sign "I'm taking the PKD Challenge for _" and take a selfie with her two sons before posting it on social media.

"At games people who are on dialysis or are donors, come up to me and hug my neck and say, 'thank you for telling people about it.' I'm just excited to work with the PKD Foundation. It has been amazing and Kansas City was fun. I also really enjoyed meeting all of the volunteers. In the past, kidney disease has not had a voice. It's National Kidney Disease Month and nobody knows it, even though it affects many people."

Kriste hopes that many Saints fans will make it to this year's New Orleans Walk for PKD on Saturday, May 30. For more information on the walk and to register, please visit here.

Photos from Saintsation Kriste at the Polycystic Kidney Disease Leadership Conference Friday, Feb. 20 - Sunday, Feb. 22 2015 in Kansas City, Mo.

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