Real Funds and Real Sun for a Virtual Kidney Walk

Well, my husband, son, and I participated in the 2020 North Carolina virtual kidney walk this weekend. Yes, it was different from all the others we’ve walked in, but many things were familiar. Most important was the opportunity to raise sorely needed funds for kidney disease research and awareness. By the end of the day, with fundraising still going on, they’d already raised more than $100,000!

All laced up, and masked up, of course, and ready to walk! That’s Paul on the end and my husband, Neil, in the middle.

And it’s always special to have an opportunity to hear moving stories from kidney recipients and donors, even if they had to do it online. It would have been great to meet them in person. A few takeaways:

A familiar, sobering one, came in hearing from transplant recipients and dialysis patients and learning that, like my son, Paul, their kidney disease diagnosis had come as a shock. One young woman said she’d felt sick one day and gone to the ER, and learned that she had only 15 percent of kidney function. Another was a seemingly healthy, young fitness instructor who developed baffling and serious symptoms. After multiple biopsies she was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, FSGS. She was fortunate to receive a transplant 4 years ago.

It bears repeating–the symptoms of chronic kidney disease are usually not apparent until it’s advanced nearly to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or transplant. That’s why prevention is so critical and early detection so important. And when a kidney is needed, living donation is the key to shorter waits and better outcomes.

When a couple of the donors spoke, I found myself nodding in agreement, as always, at what a positive experience donation is for the donor, not only the recipient. Eerily, one of them used almost the exact words I’d used a couple of weeks ago in a video I filmed for Donate Life/WELD: I was surprised at how incredibly gratifying it was for me personally…I never expected the impact it would have on my own life…

Luckily, this walk may have offered the best weather we’ve ever had for a kidney walk: a breezy, sunny day in the 70s. And that was real, not virtual.

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