Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kidney March-Take Two

Tomorrow morning, while many of you are still sleeping, or at the very least are in your cars, on your way to work, shaking your fist at the September traffic, I will be boarding a bus to Millarville. It is there that the 2012 Kidney March will kick off, starting hundreds of marchers on a 100KM journey over three days through the foothills of southern Alberta.

Tonight at the sign in/orientation meeting the executive director of the Southern Alberta & Saskatchewan.Branch of  The Kidney Foundation of Canada  told us a story. It was about a marcher from year one of the march, two years ago. This marcher named Didja, a dialysis patient who was actually dialysizing every night of the march at camp, was determined to make it every step. She was often at the rear of the pack but she didn't care. She was going to do it.

At one point during the last day, Didja climbed one of the larger hills, exhausted. When she reached the top she looked back and realized that for once, she wasn't the last marcher. There was another lady who had fallen behind her and was struggling up the hill. Didja proceeded to turn around, go back down the hill she had just climbed. She grabbed the arm of the lady who was struggling and helped her up the rest of the way. Together they made it to the top and kept on marching.

This story meant a lot to me for a few reasons. One, I am slow like a turtle so if you are looking  for me on the march route, I'll be somewhere near the back. Slow and steady wins the race - not that this is a race. But the thing that really resonated with me was what Didja did. Because over the last year, and certainly over the last few weeks, there have been so many people like Didja that have gone back and helped me up the hill (so to speak).

When I started to wonder if I was out of place in promoting organ donation, so many people stepped up to tell me I needed to continue. They shared personal stories that helped me remember the value in talking about my donation experience. They cheered me on and encouraged me to keep on keeping on. Sometimes when the self doubts get loud, you need other people around you to step up and be louder. And that happened for me which is great. I will always have cynics and naysayers in my universe, but a whole lot of people made them easier to ignore.

In recent weeks I was also starting to panic about raising the minimum amount ($2200) needed for the Kidney March. If you don't raise it by October, you pay the difference. Some of the donors I had last year weren't donating this year which meant I needed to find new donors. I'm pretty shy and don't have the largest networking base so this was extremely daunting to me. I made flyers and handed them out in my neighbourhood. Nothing. I talked about the march on Facebook and Twitter. Nothing at first. but then slowly but surely, donations started coming in. And within hours of my orientation meeting tonight, I hit, then exceeded that minimum donation. Huge.Weight Lifted.

I don't even know where to start in thanking my donors. They are all so wonderful to me for so many reasons. Over my next few posts about the march I'll probably get into the "why" but in the meantime, here are a few fun, random facts about my fantastic Kidney March backers.

  • My "furthest away" donor is from Louisiana. Despite a hurricane looming, she still took the time to not only donate, but promote the march to her friends and family
  • Four of my donors have had transplants. One liver, two double lungs and a kidney. People who would not be alive today if it wasn't for both living and deceased donors.
  • I had 36 donors. Seven of them have names starting with J.
  • Three of my donors I have never met in person
  • Six people I have only met once in person
  • I had donors from Edmonton, Calgary, BC, Ontario (many parts), Texas and Louisiana
Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. Tomorrow (and the next three days), I will walk for you.