The National Kidney Foundation held its first annual Tri-County Kidney Walk fundraiser Sunday at the Santa Barbara Fess Parker Doubletree Resort.
The foundation’s local chapter hosted the inaugural two-mile walk at 10 a.m. to educate participants about the increasing number of individuals suffering from kidney disease. Several teams participated in honor of local kidney donors and the organ recipients.
According to Chris Johnson, division president of the National Kidney Foundation, the event underscored the growing demand for organ donors. Johnson said approximately 26 million Americans — one out of every nine adults — suffer from chronic kidney disease and over 87,000 people are on the waiting list for a kidney donation.
“The goals of our event are to network people with kidney problems with others in the same situation and to raise awareness on the importance of donating,” Johnson said. “Currently, eight million Californians have the pink donation sticker on their license, which is a phenomenal growth.”
The Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, Cottage Health Systems and the Sansum Clinic were among the event’s sponsors. The National Kidney Foundation received 78 cents of every dollar raised for early detection programs, children and teen camps and educational research programs.
The fundraiser included breakfast, music, children’s face painting, yoga and booths from several wellness advocacy groups.
Randy Weiss, a kidney donor, and his organ recipient Katherine Pinedo were among those honored at the fundraiser.
“Donating was not about giving Katherine a kidney, but giving her hope to create a family and to have a life,” Weiss said. “If a knucklehead like me can do it, so can a lot of you.”
Johnson said the event is important in bringing more medical services to the local Santa Barbara community and will bring the National Kidney Foundation closer to curing life-threatening diseases.
To donate to the National Kidney Foundation or to learn more about becoming an organ donor visit www.kidney.org.