Preparations for this year's sixth annual Southern Delaware Kidney Walk are underway as teams assemble and collect donations for the April event, which takes place in Cape Henlopen State Park.
Last year, the Kidney Walk, sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation offices in Maryland, raised nearly $33,000 for treatment, aid and education about kidney disease, dialysis and transplants.
Live music, entertainment and crafts will be part of the event. Family- and pet-friendly, the walk provides an opportunity to promote community awareness and education, and raise money to support kidney health.
“One out of every nine Americans has or will develop chronic kidney disease, and most affected do not realize it until the condition has progressed,” said Nicole Scharf, the foundation's director of field services for the Eastern Shore. “By teaming up for the Kidney Walk, we hope those at risk will hear the message and get their kidneys checked.”
According to information from the kidney foundation, on Delmarva, there are nearly 1,200 people on dialysis; in Delaware, more than 400 people await a kidney.
Milton resident Mike Mock served as the honorary co-chairman of the Kidney Walk in 2009, the same year he received a kidney transplant from his son.
Mock said he had a bad reaction to medication in 2006, and his kidneys shut down. For three years, Mock said, he spent 3 1/2 hours a day on dialysis three days a week until his son gave him a kidney and literally saved his life.
Four years later, Mock said he still has regular checkups with his kidney doctor and was given a clean bill of health at his most recent checkup.
“It makes a big difference because you don’t have to get up three days a week and spend the day taking care of kidneys,” Mock said. “It's like a whole revolution getting back up to doing things.”
Diane Johnson, a dialysis social worker for more than 20 years, helps those suffering from kidney disease adjust to the lifestyle of being on dialysis and waiting for a kidney.
Johnson remains active with the kidney walk even after she retired from her job as a social worker and said she knows the money raised makes a difference.
“A lot of it goes to direct assistance for patients if they run into financial troubles,” Johnson said. “If they have electric bills they can’t pay or fuel bills - if they actually have a bill they cannot pay, we can help out.”
The Southern Delaware Kidney Walk is slated to kick off at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 27. Those who attend the walk must pay park entrance fees. Anyone who raises more than $100 will receive a free T-shirt. For more information visit donate.kidney.org.