The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, serving Delaware's Kent and Sussex counties, will hold its annual Southern Delaware Kidney Walk at 11 a.m., Sunday, April 30, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.
Over 600 people are expected to attend this family- and dog-friendly event including kidney patients, friends and family members, and others wanting to make an impact on a growing public health problem.
"With the increase in diabetes and high blood pressure, kidney disease is on the rise," said returning event Chair Kristy Ferracci, an FKC dialysis technician who donated a kidney to her husband 10 years ago. "This signature event helps the National Kidney Foundation build awareness, drive prevention and support treatment of kidney disease - the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. We encourage individuals, families and the medical and corporate communities to join us for an inspiring morning that will make a real difference in the lives of people living with kidney disease, including nearly 3,400 Delawareans on dialysis."
Check-in begins at 10 a.m. at the picnic pavilion. Following announcements by WBOC-FM morning personality Sarah Petros, the walk kicks off at 11 a.m. Participants can choose from a 3-mile route or a shorter, patient-friendly route for strollers and wheelchairs. The event also will feature entertainment; refreshments from Starbucks, Giant and Panera; a petting zoo, photo booth, and interactive vendor booths; and the Kidney Kids Corner with face painting and games.
Funds raised through Kidney Walk will directly support NKF-MD's patient services, education and research efforts. There is no registration fee, but Cape Henlopen State Park charges an entrance fee for vehicles. Everyone who raises a minimum of $100 will earn a Kidney Walk T-shirt.
To register or learn about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, go to www.kidneywalk.org or call 410-726-8732.
To date, top sponsors of the Delaware walk include Beebe Healthcare, Christiana Care Health System, Nephrology Associates, Walgreens, Woody's Dewey Beach and Dewey Beach Lions Club. More than 6,000 people participated in the 2016 Delaware and Maryland Kidney Walk events, which raised $364,000. Nationally, nearly 60,000 walkers participate each year to raise over $6 million, with more than 80 cents of every dollar donated directly supporting programs and services.
Two-time transplant recipient Lillie Williams, 51, of Milford, is now a patients’ representative. She said, “I try to help the new patients to adjust to being on dialysis, especially the young ones, because I started at a young age myself. I have been through a lot through this dialysis journey. I want to make life on dialysis more comfortable and enjoyable for all the patients. I want to be a spokesperson and a voice for kidney patients and the kidney foundation. All my years on dialysis, I have never met a social worker who had experienced dialysis themselves. I think I could be a social worker or assistant social worker who will be able to understand how a person is feeling beginning dialysis. This is my future goal.”
Ed Hilligoss, transplant recipient, said, “One person was extremely special, Kara Hoffman. She wanted to donate her kidney to me. The day finally came and I was going to get my transplant. It did get put off once and there were some issues that could have prevented me from getting it, but with a lot of hard work and a lot of praying, I was finally cleared to receive my gift. Aug. 5, 2014 will be a day that I will never forget and a day that I got my life back. Things are never the same and I am on medicines for the rest of my life, but I am so thankful.”
Serving central and western Maryland, the Delmarva Peninsula and portions of Virginia and West Virginia, the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland is the area's only voluntary health agency dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation. For more information, go to www.kidneymd.org.