COBS Bread owners say Kidney March family and friends tug at their heartstrings

Owners of COBS Bread bakeries in Shawnessy and Okotoks, Lee and Kelly Hodgins have a passion for giving back to the communities where their stores are.

Lee and Kelly have been supporting Kidney March at their Shawnessy store since being approached by Kidney Marcher Heather Dean, a renal nurse and enthusiastic member of the Pee Pee Dancers team. “A good friend of Kelly’s needed a kidney transplant and a family member also has kidney issues, so it made sense for us to help out the cause,” says Lee. (Note to Kidney Marchers: never be afraid to ask!)

COBS has a corporate “Dough Raiser’s Program” that encourages franchisees to donate 5% of sales to a charity. “But Kelly and I wanted to do more,” says Lee, “So anyone who shops at COBS Shawnessy can ask for a portion of their purchase to go toward Kidney March, and we’ll put 15% of the sale toward the Kidney March Dough Raiser’s account. It’s as simple as that.”

The couple has found there are big benefits to getting involved in their community, and with Kidney March. “People get to know your name and face, and they know you are there to give back. It helps us build real relationships with people so they actually become more than customers, and they continue to come back.”

Lee says that giving out baked goods at the Kidney March finish line in 2016 was especially meaningful. “We are involved in close to 30 events over the summer,” he says, “but the Kidney March experience touched me the most. Just seeing the closeness and sharing the powerful feeling of everyone coming together at the finish line – it tugged at our heartstrings.”

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“Strategic Central” Kidney March hub for fun and food

dining tent cropped apl 7 2017

Remember that bustling little dining and entertainment tent that has been the hub of Kidney March activity every year? With the help of Strategic Group, that charming tent will be transformed into ‘Strategic Central’ in September 2017.

The Calgary-based company which owns, manages and develops office, retail and apartment properties across Canada, is the latest to step up to support Kidney March and the kidney community to make this transformation happen. Riaz Mamdani, the CEO of Strategic Group, has always placed a high degree of importance on community involvement.

“Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum,” Mr. Mamdani said in a recent interview. “Businesses are part of their community. We have a set of community values (Impact, Pride and Legacy) that are as important to us as our business values.”

Beyond what Mr. Mamdani describes as a social obligation to use our “intellect, muscle and capital to make the world a better place,” he insists on supporting good causes like Kidney March because “being visible in the community helps attract and motivate great people with similar values to work at the company – and that’s really what makes our business succeed.”

Mr. Mamdani is pleased that Kidney March has captured the imagination and passions of people within the organization; several people at Strategic Group have been personally affected by kidney disease and organ donation, including his own family.

Click here to read more.

Time to register for Kidney March 2017



Fellow Kidney Marchers & Crew,
It’s time to sign up for Kidney March 2017!


The KIDney KIDs team got a head start when I was the first one to sign up in late September! Come on people … the KIDneyKIDS are already a powerhouse team – you don’t want us to get too far ahead of you.
If you register before Thursday, December 1, 2016, you will become a 2017 Kidney March Trailblazer. That means you will get super cool vest you can wear at Kidney March. You want that vest … you know you do!!
Register by clicking the red button at the top of this page.

Or call the Kidney March hotline at 1.866.9KMARCH
I look forward to seeing you at Kidney March 2017!
– Dr. Julian Midgley, Chief of Pediatric Nephrology at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, past President of the Kidney Foundation of Canada national board, and a 7 time Kidney Marcher –

Kidney Marcher Manjinder Mann walks 100 K’s in the UK!

You may already be aware that 2015 Kidney Marcher Manny did this year’s Kidney Marchin Manchester, UK this past weekend while the 2016 Marchers and Crew made their way from K-Country to Calgary. Manny completed his SOLO 100 kilometres in TWO DAYS – 60 kilometres on Saturday, and 40 kilometres on Sunday. He was marching for his two-and-a-half year old son Harbin.

Check out his interview with Angela Knight on CBC Radio’s Calgary morning show the Eyeopener. Click play below.


Co-sponsors for Kidney March … go the extra mile


Joanne Drodge and Randy Haatvedt personify what Kidney March is all about. Both Kidney March veterans, Joanne and Randy could write the book about going the extra mile – literally and figuratively.

A retired IT Consultant, Randy donated his kidney to his friend Pat in 2012. A long-time client at Pat’s shoe shine business in downtown Calgary, Randy watched his friend of 20 years working hard every day, even though it was clear Pat was getting progressively worse. Randy did some internet research and without a word to Pat, called Pat’s doctor to see how he could help. Randy had hoped to do the transplant work-up anonymously so as not to get Pat’s hopes up if he wasn’t a match – but protocol would not allow that, and once he told Pat of his intentions, the two friends started “knocking over the obstacles one at a time.” “It was an amazing experience,” Randy says, “From the time I made that first call, I had a good feeling – we both did. In fact, if I had another kidney to give, I’d do it all again.”

Joanne Drodge’s story is similarly remarkable. She first learned about kidney disease when her nephew, Bryan, was born with it. Now 21, Bryan has had two transplants, and is on the list for a third in Halifax. Although Joanne is not a match for her nephew, she’s looking into the paired donor exchange program, and has begun kidney donor testing so that she can donate to someone else. “At my young age,” she says, tongue-in-cheek, “time is ticking, so I need to move now if I am going to do this.” Despite her nephew’s experience, Joanne had no idea until she walked in Kidney March 2015 that kidney disease was so prevalent and devastating. “Awareness is critical when it comes to kidney disease – people need to understand, it could easily be them,” she says. 

Click here to read more.

100 ways, 100 days, 100 k’s



Kidney March is giving away 100 ways to groove in the next 100 days ’til we march 100 k’s in Kidney March

Yes, seriously. We are now in the 100 day countdown. To which I say “there is still time”. Still time to train. Still time to fundraise. And still time to encourage friends and family to sign up. But the time is now!

And yes, seriously. We have 100 give aways to celebrate this awesome milestone in the countdown to Kidney March. As part of Kidney March’s partnership with Universal Music Canada, as the lead charity for their Juno after party, you can win free downloads from the GetMusic store.

Entering is easy… just comment on our 100 ways, 100 days, 100k’s post on facebook, twitter or intsagram. The first 50 people to do so will win 2 pins each. Our Kidney March team will contact you after the contest has closed and provide you with your pins and directions. Downloads are encouraged on a desktop so both Apple and Android users can participate. Then you can take your favourite tunes with you wherever you train for your 100k’s.

No bonus points, but we’d love it if you shared this contest on your favourite social media network. Kidney March is great because of its community, and the community is built by you.

All the best,


Kidney March Specialist

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Southern Alberta Branch

6007 1A St SW Calgary AB T2H 0G5

403-255-6108 ext 34//1-866-9 KMARCH


Sean’s mom is marching, in hopes no other family has to endure the pain and fear of kidney disease

Shannon, a first time Marcher, thought her son was having an allergic reaction and took him to Alberta Children’s Hospital for treatment. After being seen, they were escorted into a consultation room and told Sean has a kidney disease called childhood nephrotic syndrome. He was just 3 years old. Shannon’s initial response was “No, my son is here for an allergic reaction, not kidney disease. You must have the wrong child.” Unfortunately, the fight against kidney disease is much harder than that, and for the next two years Sean battled heroically with daily urine dips and extremely high doses of prednisone. The required amount of prednisone caused Sean to become steroid dependent. Whenever doctors tried to take him off the drug his kidneys would respond by spilling protein into his urine. Without protein going into his bloodstream, as it should, his blood lacks enough oxygen needed by his cells and tissues to support their functions. That meant Shannon’s darling little boy had to undergo chemotherapy with weekly blood tests.

Now two years later, Sean is 7 and in remission. That sounds like cause for cheer, but, in truth, it is cause for worry. Sean’s doctor says his progress is brilliant however for true remission they look at a period of five years without relapse. Fear of relapse hangs heavy. In preparation for this possibility, Shannon has empowered Sean with age appropriate information about his care. Meaning this second grader is well aware that sodium and potassium are hard on his kidneys and, while tough, he picks food that is good for his body. In addition to protecting his kidneys, a good diet and lifestyle are vital for Sean because, as Shannon shares, “a cold or flu, which is usually an inconvenience for most kids and families, could send Sean back to ground zero, back to prednisone and chemotherapy.”

Shannon is doing everything she can to care for Sean, ensure he grows up with the healthiest kidneys possible, and prevent other families knowing the pain and fear of kidney disease. That is why Shannon is marching in Kidney March.

shannon and sean cropped

Meet Brynn! Our amazing summer student, who also knows the hardships of kidney disease

September 10 - Brynn 1It’s Day Zero! We wanted to introduce you to a new face on the 2015 Kidney March Team you’ll be seeing this weekend, Brynn. She is our AMAZING 2015 summer student who has been working hard all summer for the best weekend of the year, Kidney March. Brynn shares with us why working as part of Kidney March is so important to her and her connection to kidney disease.

For 22 years my Grandfather was on at-home dialysis while my Grandmother lovingly took care of him. Twelve or so years ago my Uncle had a kidney donated to him by a coworker. Three years ago this past June marks the date of my Father’s successful transplant. And six years ago, I too was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease.

The way this disease seems to affect my family, focuses on onset at a later age. For example, my kidneys look like the surface of a Sunday afternoon bubble bath under an ultrasound with all the cysts covering them, however their function is currently, miraculously fine. The same goes for my Father who was diagnosed at 21 years of age, and who didn’t really have to worry about watching the number of bananas he’d put in his smoothies until his mid to late forties.

Four years ago we really started to notice when things got worse and his kidneys started to fail. One month he would be working 12 hour days and going for long bike rides or jogs with me on the weekend, and the next he could only manage two hours of work before he had to leave his shop and come up for a nap. His kidneys were nearing less than 6% function and the amount of toxins in his blood made it extremely difficult for him to find the energy to do many things he would have previously done with ease. It was hard to see my vibrant, fun-loving, and gentle father slowly wither away. Even the classic ‘dad jokes’ were far and few between.

Eventually, while waiting for news of a transplant, he began dialysis. It wasn’t more than three times a week for four hours each time, but it was a schedule that was new to our family life, and something we all had to get used to. Despite the incredible support shown through a number of friends and family members who had stepped forward over the months to be tested as potential donors, including The Kidney March’s very own Marianne Janz (otherwise known as my wonderful Aunt), a direct match had yet to be found.

Six weeks after he began dialysis, my mother, who had initially been the first in line to get tested, decided to enter the paired exchange in hopes that it would give my dad a better chance at a kidney. With the paired exchange, two people enter in as partners, but do not have to be a match. One partner is a donor, and the other a receiver, paired together with other partners to create a large chain of transplants that fit people together like puzzle pieces. It is amazing technology, though can be incredibly unreliable if one person, for any reason, backs out at the last minute and breaks down the whole chain. After one potential chain ended up falling apart, another was built, and on June 20th 2012, both my parents went into surgery while my brothers and I waited nervously.

To say that the surgery was a success is an understatement. I was the first to visit him in the recovery room afterwards and once I saw that (still drugged up) grin coming out from under his beard, I knew my dad was back. To this day he still constantly jokes with my brothers that now that he has three kidneys, no one can ‘take him.’ Though turns it around just as quickly if he’s losing the wrestling match in an effort to ‘please save his one good kidney.’ The fun never stops.

Seeing the incredible support that my family and especially my parents have had for each other has not made me nervous about my future in the least. Research is expanding, technology is growing, and my older brother is a match with two healthy toxin-filters that he has already promised me one of for when the time comes. (Thanks Ben).

On top of this, I’ve had the pleasure of working as a part of The Kidney March family for what has been a most incredible summer. Through this opportunity I have met and am still meeting many amazingly inspirational people with stories of their own, each as unique and differentiated as the disease we walk for. Never have I ever had such a close, personal connection to the work I’ve done, nor felt so much like I was actually helping in making a difference. Thank you to The Kidney Foundation for all you’ve done for my family, thank you to The Kidney March for being my home away from home, and thank you to the people who are all walking together for one reason or another; we’re doing it together, in the same direction. ~Brynn

Kidney March’s unique packing list

Whether you are a pack in advance or a late into the night before kind of person, here’s a list of items, unique to Kidney March, that you’ll want to remember to throw in your duffle bag. And a quick note about that duffle bag, you will be allowed one gear bag weighing up to 18 kg including the weight of your sleeping bag and sleeping pad or air mattress. Pads and air mattresses should be packed inside or securely fastened to your gear bag. Be sure to pack your clothing and sleeping bag in a plastic bag in case of rain. We recommend a large backpack or duffel bag, not a suitcase. And please attach your luggage tag (that you’ll receive at Day Zero) to the outside of your bag.

The Must Haves:

  • Kidney March T-Shirt

    Go ahead wear it to Opening Ceremonies. You’ll earn another one over the weekend to wear to Closing Ceremonies.

  • Kidney March Name Tag

    You’ll get this on Day Zero. Please wear it. We want to get to know you. Plus there is all kinds of important and helpful information inside your name tag booklet.

  • Running Shoes

    Preferably two pairs of worn-in shoes you have been alternately training in.

  • Water Bottle(s)

    Pack one for water and one for Gatorade to keep you fueled while on the road. There will be Kidney March water bottles available for purchase at the Day Zero Store and at the General Store at camp.

  • Socks

    Lots of moisture wicking socks!

Whatever the Weather:

  • Sunscreen

  • Rain poncho

  • Hat, cap and/or visor

  • Sunglasses

  • Mitts and toque for those chilly mornings

To Keep on Marching and Crewing:

  • Anti-blister aids

  • Petroleum jelly or Body Glide

Then there’s camp:

  • Washcloth, towels and toiletries

  • Sleeping bag

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Roll or pad for tent floor

  • Pillow

  • Earplugs

And the fun stuff:

  • Camera

  • Greek wear

    Yes, you read that right. Get ready to say OPA at Kidney March’s Greek night. Pack your toga or Laurel Leaf Headband.

  • Costumes, cow bells, funny hats, and noise makers

    Anything really that you can think of to make marching and crewing a blast.


Susan, mother of 3, marches for her daughters’ future

In September 2011, one year after undergoing my life-saving kidney transplant, I wrote the passages below about what motivated me to walk in Kidney March with my kidney donor (and sister-in-law) Marian Reich.

I am marching in the Kidney Walk to Calgary because

I believe research is hope. I believe in the power of research and in supporting a cause that makes a real difference in peoples lives.

Over the last 30 years, the Kidney Foundation of Canada has raised over $100M for research. That’s a huge number. Even more amazing is that it has been raised in communities across Canada by individuals like you and me — the families and friends of those affected by kidney disease. These passionate, determined people have held event after event, knocked on door after door,… year after year,… because they believed things could be better. They hoped that an investment in research would change things.

And it has. Research has led to improved quality of life, better dialysis methods, earlier detection and prevention, and for a lucky few, (13% of those diagnosed) a new lease on life through transplantation. If you don’t believe me, talk to your friendly neighbourhood nephrologist, he or she will tell you, as they have told me, what a difference the Kidney Foundation has made to advancing kidney research.

I am marching because

In 1977, Neil Everett McKenzie died in Toronto undergoing his 2nd failed kidney transplant. He was 55. He had been on peritoneal dialysis for what seemed to me to be a very long time. He wore a feather in his hat and always smelled clean. He took us for long drives through blue mountain and somehow made us feel like we were on a roller coaster. He teased and spoiled us horribly. He was a World War II Veteran and a determined man. He never gave up hope.

I am marching because

In 2006, Blaine Everett McKenzie died in Collingwood after a relatively short but painful battle with cancer of the kidney, liver and pancreas. He was 65. He was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1972 and received a transplant in 1975 which kept him alive for 31 more years — allowing him to finish raising three young children who loved him more than life itself. Probably because of his training as a marine engineer, his hand writing was unusually precise and beautiful. His laugh was deep and sincere, like his faith, our countless philosophical discussions over tea, and the love he had for his family and friends. Like his determined scottish father, he never gave up hope, not even in the very last days.

I am marching because

In 2010, I was given the gift of a new life through living donor transplantation. There are no words to thank the many people who supported and strengthened me through this part of my life’s journey. There are no words to thank the person who risked her life so I could have another chance at mine, no words to thank the individuals, my friends, who went through exhaustive testing, preparing themselves to take a huge risk to help me. I won’t waste this chance. It is time to act. This walk, like many other things we may choose to do in our lives to make a difference, is a tangible act of determination and an act of hope. Like my stubborn grandfather and father, I will never give up hope. I guess it is in the genes. You have take the good with the bad 🙂

I am marching because

I have three beautiful daughters who depend on this life changing research continuing. Like the hundreds of thousands who may be profoundly affected by kidney disease in the next decade, directly or indirectly, research is their hope too.

Now fast forward to today. If my past and present wasn’t enough, this year, I have even more reason to be involved once again.

In September 2014, Alexandra Hope Smith was diagnosed with kidney disease. Despite a family history of the disease, it was still a shocking diagnosis for a healthy young woman with no symptoms and her whole life in front of her. Though she was rarely ever ill or even unhappy for that matter, I have a vivid picture in my mind of the wee tot who looked a lot like tweety bird squeezing her big blue eyes in utter fear whenever we rumbled over the unpaved part of the road that led to our home in the country. I remember how bad I felt when I saw that terrified look on her little face, so I drove faster to get off the road and take the fear away.

And now, twenty years later, I have that same raw feeling of helplessness as I struggle to figure out how I can help take away her fear as she navigates this scary but all too familiar path. This time, I can’t drive faster or reach into the back seat to hold her hand and make things better. This time, I can’t drive off the gravel road. All I can do is face this family kidney curse again — head on — this time with my kind and beautiful daughter. Of course, we’ll do what we have to do and there will be a few tears, but we won’t stop to dwell on it or allow it to derail any of Alex’s hopes and dreams. We will shore ourselves up, ask lots of questions, and we will find the answers together. Love you Allie Cat.

May 10 - Sue McKenzie