Prince George will be out on the track at Ecole Lac de Bois, marching the miles for those who suffer from kidney disease and other ailments of this vital organ.
The Kidney Foundation's annual Kidney Walk helps raise funds and hope for people living with kidney disease, people like Ainsley Campbell in Penticton, who was diagnosed when she was five years old.
The walk happens on June 2, with the public rallying at the AiMHi headquarters then striding out the back door of the gym onto the track for the yearly event.
"Before Ainsley got sick, we did not know much about kidney disease, and that it can affect children as young as Ainsley," says Melissa, Ainsley's mom. "When Ainsley is in remission, she is just like all the other kids her age - happy and active. When she has a relapse, she needs to stay home for periods at a time with low energy levels. She takes steroid drugs for her condition, which can cause side effects."
Ainsley has a rare condition called Childhood Nephrotic Syndrome which causes the kidneys to leak large and abnormal amounts of protein into the urine instead of into the body's bloodstream. When the protein is lost in the urine, this leads to puffiness or swelling, often in the eyelids, feet and ankles and eventually the abdomen. If left untreated, problems with breathing, eating and infections can occur.
It is one of many ways the kidney can malfunction, for people all across the province, including many living in Prince George who will benefit from the funds raised right along with patients the breadth of B.C.
"It was really hard at first when she was diagnosed to 'just be normal' and not worry," said Melissa.
"That's why connecting with the Kidney Foundation was so important to us.
"Working with The Kidney Foundation, we were able to focus on doing something positive, like raising awareness about kidney disease and helping other people living with this devastating disease."
Ainsley is now seven and is just as involved as her mom, dad, and her own community of supporters in the effort to raise awareness and funds for the Kidney Foundation's annual Kidney Walk. Thirteen towns and cities in B.C. take part in the event.
"It is really heartwarming to see a community come together like this and rally in support of kidney patients - it truly means the world to them," said Marie Hesse, Director of Community Initiatives at the BC & Yukon Branch. "The Kidney Walk could not happen without the tremendous support of thousands of volunteers, donors and sponsors, and it is thanks to them that The Kidney Walk has grown to become one of our biggest success stories."
One in 10 Canadians has kidney disease but most don't know it yet. Kidney disease has no cure and is often under-recognized, and undetectable in early stages.
For more information on the Kidney Walk or to register, please go to kidneywalk.ca.