One of the youngest participants at last year’s Kidney Walk takes her spot near the back of the procession up the Seawalk and back. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River Kidney Walk 2019 happening this weekend

Registration is down, likely because it used to be in September, organizer says

Jen Lewis has a long history with kidney disease.

It’s a history that began long before she was born and its legacy will last well into the future.

Unless those researching it can find a way to win the fight, that is.

That research is funded – at least in part – by events like this weekend’s Kidney Walk, which Lewis is organizing for the second time after taking over the role last year.

Lewis has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), as do the majority of people in her immediate family.

“It’s a really strong gene,” she says. “My sister has it. My brother has it. My daughter has it. My dad has it. My Grandma had it. My niece was actually very lucky not to get it.”

PKD, Lewis explains, causes cysts that often grow very large inside otherwise healthy kidneys, often leading to kidney failure later in life. Right now hers isn’t too bad, but she’ll likely need a transplant at some point down the road.

The management of her PKD, she says, mainly involves being careful about what she eats.

“We’ve gotta be very careful with our diets. Salt is really bad, we have to limit the amount of protein we eat, caffeine isn’t good…there’s lots of stuff that isn’t good.”

And that’s pretty much call she can do. There isn’t, at this point, a prescription or device available that can help her kidney out so she and her family can live a normal life.

But the research being funded by events like this weekend’s kidney walk is making gains, Lewis says, so one day there might be. In one of the Facebook groups she’s in where people with PKD talk about the disease and their management strategies, “there are a few people that have been trying out some of the drugs that are just coming onto the market and they seem to be helping people. I also just saw something about a ‘pocket kidney’ being developed that people can carry around that does the work your kidney won’t do.

“They’re also working on the possibility of freezing a gene so that people don’t get it at all.”

But that kind of research won’t continue to move towards answers without people getting involved in fundraising. This weekend’s walk raised over $10,000 towards the cause last year, and Lewis says this year has the potential to be the biggest yet.

“The Comox Valley one was cancelled,” Lewis says, “so all the people who were planning on going to that one are either being directed to Campbell River or Nanaimo.”

Then again, registration is currently below previous years. Lewis says that’s likely because it’s not being held in September as it’s been in previous years.

“I’m not sure about the whole reasoning behind (moving) it, but it was thought that June would be a better time,” she says. “There’s a lot of other stuff going on in September – like the Terry Fox Run and other big fundraisers – so that might have been part of it.”

But there’s still time to get involved. Anyone interested in pitching in for the cause can go to to register or make a donation, or just head down to Frank James Park in Willow Point on Sunday (June 2) between 9 and 10 a.m. before the walk gets underway.

“We’re supposed to have super nice weather for it,” Lewis says, “so come down and take a nice little stroll up the Seawalk to the Big Rock and back with us.”

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