Carolyn Howard pictured at the 2019 Kidney March. Photo supplied

Carolyn Howard pictured at the 2019 Kidney March. Photo supplied

Courtenay woman raising money for Kidney Foundation of Canada

A Courtenay woman is preparing for an annual event that raises money to help fight kidney disease and boost organ donation.

Carolyn Howard is participating in her third Kidney March, a 100-kilometre event that normally takes place over three days in the Calgary area and foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This year, however, Howard will be among the 500-plus Canadians completing the event in their own communities. They will start by walking 70 kilometres between Aug. 10 and Sept. 10, then connect virtually from Sept. 11–13 to walk 10 kilometres a day to complete the journey.

This year’s Kidney March will lack the camaraderie of the previous two years, but Howard welcomes the opportunity to continue being part of the BC/Yukon team called ‘BeCauseYuKan’.

“It’s really well supported,” she said of the event which drew 400-plus walkers last year.

The inspiration behind Howard’s participation is her 30-year-old daughter Darcy, who began her life with minimal kidney function. Darcy received a kidney transplant at age two, and continues to thrive with that same kidney.

“She’s super active,” Howard said. “She ran a marathon this year. She’s amazing. (But) I always worry because of the drugs she’s on and her susceptibility to things.”

Howard notes that all kidney patients, pre- or post-transplant, are more susceptible to COVID-19.

“It’s important for people to realize. Everybody’s immunosuppressed after transplant.”

According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, one in 10 Canadians has kidney disease or is at risk. Most don’t realize it. A person can lose up to 80 per cent kidney function without symptoms. There is no cure for kidney disease. Dialysis and transplants are both a form of life support. Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians waiting for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney. Wait times average four years, during which time many have died.

“It’s sadly one of those things that can creep up on people,” Howard said.

Marchers are asked to raise a minimum of $2,200. Last year, Howard garnered $2,500. This year, she has so far raised $1,687.

To support Howard, visit bit.ly/32Nrf7m

The money that’s raised supports kidney disease prevention, lifesaving research, patient support programs, health education, and organ donation initiatives. A significant portion of funds support research projects that are vital to the development of improved treatments and a cure.