87-year-old Calgary woman steps up to help fellow kidney patients

In the News: Learn more about this year’s Kidney March and meet Sylvia and Kasthon as they gear up to take on their own 100 KM journeys with tremendous support! Check out the Global News story by clicking the image below to view the video. 
Thank you kidney community for stepping up to show our Kidney March spirit!

“Organizers of this year’s Kidney March have had to make some changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as Gil Tucker shows us, they’re getting some great support from a very determined patient.” –  Global News Calgary 


Cancelling ‘Not an Option’ for Kidney March 2020
Kidney March is going ahead in an exciting new format for 2020, keeping in theme with their annual motto “Failure is Not an Option.” This will be the 11th year for the three-day, 100-kilometre event held every September in the Calgary area and foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The true impact of Kidney March, is beyond the numbers, it’s made up of every participant’s powerful story and the incredible impact is has on the lives of Canadians living with Kidney disease.

Meet Marcher Sylvia Shields, an 87-year-old kidney patient from Calgary. This year’s new virtual format will allow her to participate, and she is taking full advantage of it. She will be walking her 100 KM down the halls of her condo building the Aviemore in Calgary, with the help and encouragement of the other condo residents. Specifically, she will be cheered on by her core group of supporters and fellow Kidney Foundation volunteers known as the Aviemore Angels. She plans to walk about 2.6 kilometres per day, “Each floor is about 1.3 kilometres, so if I circle it twice, that will give me the distance I need per day. If it is nice out, and my health allows it, I will walk outside too.” Due to her health conditions, there was no way for her to participate in the outdoor, 3-day, 100 KM event in the past. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to make a difference,” Sylvia said with excitement in anticipation of the challenge she is about to take on. Sylvia lost one of her kidneys early in her twenties and with only 11% kidney function remaining, she is now facing kidney failure, but Sylvia tells us that will not stop her from participating in Kidney March. “With the support of the Kidney Foundation, I have discovered unlimited resources that have allowed me to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Although we are living through unprecedented times, I am determined to do my part to give back to a foundation that has helped me and millions of Canadians.

2020 EXPO Online Recap

If you joined us for Expo Online, thank you! Also, thank you to all our great partners who teamed up with us to bring Expo to you. If you missed it or want to share it with your friends and family, we’ve got you covered!

Read below to discover what Expo Online was all about and access all the resources mentioned in our main 2020 Expo video

You can also find all the videos from Expo in our Video Gallery.  After watching these videos, you will have the strategies and inspiration you need for your own Kidney March journey this fall.

Exciting announcements you don’t want to miss…
This year’s fundraising incentive!
Raise $500 between April 5 (today!) and May 11, 2020, and receive a $50 gift card to the Kidney March Store.

Check out our new Kidney March gear and accessories. Start your shopping today at the 2020 Online Store.

Sponsor Discounts!
Kidney March has terrific partners, and we are excited to bring you deals from a variety of businesses to support your Kidney March journey.

  • West Jet – 10% off on eligible flights to and from Calgary during Kidney March*
  • The Delta Calgary South Hotel – Discounted rate of $139 CAD per night.*
  • Gord’s Running Store, Calgary – 20% off your purchase from today until October 13, 2020 (more locations to come)

*For full details on these discounts click https://kidneymarch.ca/news-and-community/

Training tips from Paiwei Wei, Kidney March Photographer and 9-time Ironman.
• Join the Kidney March Training Walks Facebook Group to connect with other Marchers and Crew and share your training experiences with each other.
• Download and follow the 12-week Training Guide (also on p.23 in your Marcher Manuel) to keep you on track.

Tips on Gear
• Gord from Gord’s Running Store explains what you should look for when buying your walking shoes in this informative video. Plus check out his second video on stretching.
• Learn about the famous blister-free socks, coming to us all the way from Australia.
  – ArmaSkin the Anti-Blister Sock
  – ArmaSkin Marcher Testimonial

Be Inspired
• Meet Marcher Michelle MacKinnon & hear “David’s Story”
Your March Funds Amazing Research! Meet Leah Getchell with the Can-SOLVE CKD Network. 

Resources to help reach your fundraising goals
You can also find these fundraising resources under “fundraising”

Kidney March promotional materials

Contact us to talk about materials we can provide you for promoting your March. We have Posters, brochures flyers and some larger display signage that you can borrow.

If you live in Alberta, contact Susan Reghenas (susan.reghenas@kidney.ca) to obtain an AGLC raffle license.

Lastly, don’t forget why we March.
Kidney patients and their families are counting on us, and failure is not an option.

Have questions? Need some help? We are here to support you! Contact Us 

A Mini Marcher – Cause for Applause

In the News:  Mini Marcher Sam continues to advocate for the Kidney Cause one little step at a time.  Read his article in Our Canada magazine A Mini Marcher Cause for Applause  “The unrelenting determination of a three-year-old boy”

“He became an immediate inspiration to those suffering with the disease. It’s our dream for people to hear Sam’s message and consider donating to the Kidney Foundation of Canada or maybe even consider becoming an organ donor themselves. We hope to see a world where kidney disease is curable and no longer devastates so many families. Until that day comes, Sam will keep walking.”

Kidney March community wraps its arms around Ontario family

Why does Michelle MacKinnon fly across Canada every year to walk 100 kilometres over a three day weekend? She needs to do something big. Something really big. In honour of her son David. Because the very day of his kidney transplant, the very morning she was scheduled to give him her left kidney, David had a stroke and died from the complications of kidney disease. He was 18 years old.

It’s been six years since then. And Michelle has been doing the annual Kidney March in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta ever since. “Every person at Kidney March understands everything we have gone through – in a way that no one else can,” she says. “The March isn’t going to bring David back. But I do it with my son Andrew to honour David, and every other kidney patient in Canada.” Michelle lives in Niagra Falls, Ontario with her husband Dave, and 23-year-old Andrew. “That first year, I cried and cried, meeting all of those amazing people. It is absolutely beautiful there. Gorgeous scenery. Beautiful people,” she smiles.

Click here to read more.

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.


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

Eager to give back to the community, Trevor just signed up for Kidney March.


As a young man with a young family, Trevor Ferguson was shocked when doctors told him he had polycystic kidney disease. In his own words, he shares his story.

I was in the hospital for testing for another ailment and, while delighted that testing came back ok, I didn’t have a clue what life with kidney disease would be like. Immediately, I was referred to a nephrologist. Together we made a plan to get me to transplant without going on dialysis first. That was 12 years ago.

Throughout that decade of living with kidney disease there were definitely some challenges. My wife, Sam, was my rock. Her support was definitely the reason I could keep on going, keep on working, and keep up with my family. As my cysts grew, and my kidney function declined, Sam came forward for testing as a living donor for me. She was well into the testing when my sister Holly said… err no, and insisted that Sam back down and allow her to go forward. Holly realized that Sam would need to be full strength to help me recover from transplant surgery and take care of our two sons. We feel really lucky for that foresight.

Click here to read more.

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

Kidney March Patient Program – Pedal Power

Throughout dialysis units across southern Alberta, dialysis patients are participating in their own Kidney March. Challenged to complete 100 kilometres of activity, patients pedal on specialized bikes that are pushed up to the dialysis chair. So far Jake, pictured above, has cycled 500 kms en route to his goal of 800 kms by September 7th. Being active while dialyzing is shown to clear more toxins from the blood and we applaud Jake and all our participants! In addition to getting several other benefits derived from leading a more active lifestyle, these participants are also raising funds for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. Jake is in the top five of our individual fundraisers for Kidney March.

You may have the opportunity to meet some of the Patient Program participants during the closing ceremonies. These individuals are not walking beside you in Kidney March but they are with us every step of the way.

Marcher #3 - Jake

Make 2014 your best year yet.

Best Way for Spreading Christmas Cheer is Singing Loud for All to Hear

We, at the Kidney Foundation Southern Alberta branch, are singing to you and singing your praises.

Click here to read more.