08 March 2007

UNC Kidney Kare 5K Run/Walk, March 24, McDougle Middle School, Carrboro

As a friendly reminder to all the new readers (and established friends and readers who got this memo via email last year), the UNC Kidney Center is holding its annual UNC Kidney Kare 5K Run/Walk again this year at McDougle Middle School in Carrboro. (A race brochure and application can be downloaded from the link above in PDF format.)

©UNC Kidney Center 2005-2007

The date's been moved up a bit from last year (still before the Easter holiday weekend, though): March 24th and the run/walk starts officially at 8:30am sharp (late registration can be done same day, but get there early in case of a line; online registration is also an option at the link above). For those of you who don't run (like me), do not be discouraged...at least half of those that participated last year were walkers as well and the course is not difficult. For those of you that do run, the course is easy and pleasant enough to do it twice if you want a super workout or more leisurely if you want to talk to those alongside you. The course not only is on the McDougle Middle School track, but also winds through some nice residential areas of Carrboro. A course map can be found here. Right now, it's becoming nothing short of gorgeous here weather-wise, but allergy sufferers should come prepared as the blooms should be budding/budded by then.

All proceeds from this event go to benefit the UNC Kidney Center's Kidney Education Outreach Program. They do a wonderful job in trying to meet the educational needs of an increasing number of people who are at risk for ESRD (end stage renal disease) through a variety of programs throughout the state. Kidney disease is a major health issue to many millions of Americans...and more are being diagnosed with CKD (chronic kidney disease) or ESRD everyday due to poor eating and exercise habits, diabetes, and obesity, among others. The National Kidney Foundation has a great site explaining why your kidneys...and kidney health...is so important. Through proper education and intervention, a lot of 'at risk' people can be spared developing ESRD in the first place and, as a consequence, perhaps also be spared from needing kidney dialysis and/or a kidney transplant.

As regular readers (and friends from my everyday life) know, this kind of program is very, very dear to my heart. No such educational program existed when my father had CKD, none existed when he want into ESRD, and none existed when he first started dialysis in the 1970s. My father was a very lucky and a very determined man...he survived more than two decades on dialysis, which was/is very rare...but had his illness been 'caught' when he was a college student or years later even as a young newlywed, he could have been spared all the pain and suffering he had to endure in those 20+ years. (If you're not familiar with dialysis, it's simply the removal of wastes from your kidneys artificially with a machine when your body cannot properly do it on its own. For patients on hemodialysis like my father was, that means having these treatments 2-3 times a week, for several hours each treatment...although there are different dialysis options other than hemodialysis. This dialysis routine must continue until either the kidney function is regained somehow, a successful kidney transplant takes place, or until the patient dies.) To say dialysis can forever alter the current and future lives of the patient, friends, and family is an extreme understatement: patients need regular dialysis simply to survive and everything...and I mean everything...runs secondary to that demand. Young, old, white, black, man, woman...it makes no difference. Dialysis can help extend and save a person's life, but it doesn't 'cure' renal failure. If people can only get educated and proactive about their risk factors and life styles early enough on, sometimes end stage renal disease and renal failure can be avoided.

In the short time I have been exposed to this disease, I have seen tremendous strides in not only the care and longevity of dialysis patients, but also in the prevention and education. Still (especially due to the increase of diabetes across the U.S.), the numbers of patients continue to rise. Early education and intervention are key. And education is exactly what the UNC Kidney Center (along with several other distinguished programs across the country and world) tries to provide. If you cannot attend the run/walk on March 24th, I strongly encourage you to make a donation to the UNC Kidney Center or to the American Kidney Fund (a kidney patient support fund).

Otherwise (or, hopefully, in addition to your donation), I'll see you there.

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