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Marching for mom: Airdrie woman takes on 100-kilometre hike in honour of her mother

Katherine Schneider (right) will walk 100 kilometres over three days in honour of her mother Sharalee (centre) who passed away earlier this year.
Katherine Schneider (right) will walk 100 kilometres over three days in honour of her mother Sharalee (centre) who passed away earlier this year. Supplied by Katherine Schneider

Katherine Schneider’s mother, Sharalee, has type 2 diabetes. She was only 49 years old when she underwent a kidney transplant. All went well with the operation and Katherine had an idea.

“In March 2016, I heard about the Kidney March for the first time and I was like, ‘Mom, we should totally do this,'” says Schneider, who is herself a mother to two little boys.

Despite recovering quickly from surgery, Sharalee felt she needed time before attempting the 100-kilometre trek. The pair decided they would tackle the walk the next year.

Sadly, Sharalee’s health began to deteriorate throughout 2017 and by early 2018, she was admitted to hospital as her heart and new kidney was failing.

“Her birthday was Jan. 10 and we celebrated her birthday in the hospital,” Schneider recalls. “My sister and my niece and her husband and the three of us [were there] and then she passed away Jan. 18.”
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Sharalee Schneider was only 51 years old.

Katherine Schneider struggled to come to terms with her mother’s death and admits that hasn’t yet happened.

“I was kind of trying to avoid grieving and I was like, ‘You know what? I still really want to do the Kidney March.’ I’m like, ‘I’m going to do it.'”

The Airdrie mother’s hope is that by meeting others who have experienced the same loss she has, the healing process can really begin.

“I’m excited to meet new people and hear their stories and have a group of people to grieve with.”

Schneider will join nearly 400 other participants this weekend as they make the trek from K-Country to Calgary in the ninth annual Kidney March which raises money for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

READ MORE: Alberta toddler walking 100 km to support loved ones with kidney disease

“This is the only Kidney March in the world,” says Joyce Van Deurzen, the executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan branch. “It was created here, It was invented here. Nobody walks this far, this long, for this cause anywhere else in the world.”

The event is the single-largest fundraiser for the foundation and this year’s field of participants is the second-largest since its inception in 2010.

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“It’s really become a beacon for people who want to do something big, who truly want to make a difference and they know it involves sacrifice and commitment,” Van Deurzen says. “I think that’s part of what makes it so powerful.”

The walk will begin Friday morning and conclude on Sunday.

The event has already surpassed its fundraising goal of $700,000 and will put the money towards kidney research and to improve care, treatment and services for those living with kidney disease.