About 500 participants across Canada are marching to fight against kidney disease this weekend — completing their journeys in their own communities instead of the Calgary area due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The 11th annual Kidney March has participants walk 100 kilometres to raise money for research and organ donation.
From Aug. 10 to Sept. 10, marchers completed 70 km. Then, from Sept. 11 to 13, they are connecting virtually to walk 10 km a day.
Those living with the disease, friends, family, health-care workers or those just wanting to make a difference take part.
“Kidney march is really about community… It’s really become a movement,” said Joyce Van Deurzen, executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Southern Alberta Branch, on Saturday.
“It’s much more than a fundraising weekend; it brings people together that want to do something big.”
As of Saturday night, the march had raised $945,000 of it’s $1-million goal, according to its website.
The idea is to draw attention to organ donation while keeping people safe due to COVID-19.
“There was no way we were going to put Kidney March to the side even with a pandemic. We figured out ways to do it safely,” she said.
“Typically, they march here in the Foothills of the Rockies but this year, they’re marching wherever they are.”
This event was Tanya Work’s 8th Kidney March.
“As we’re walking, we have a lot of people driving by, honking and it makes a world of difference,” she said.
Her mom was diagnosed with kidney disease and later received a transplant. It still affects her daily life, however.
“A transplant is great but a cure is needed,” Work said. “That’s why we walk and try to raise money for research and to help kidney patients.”
According to the march, there is no cure for kidney disease, and 78 per cent of Canadians waiting for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney.