By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Leo Thibeault and his grandson took a short journey that is going to go a long way for kidney patients.
© Adam Brazeau
Leo Thibeault and his grandson David Pecore banded together with other family members to raise funds at the Cornwall Kidney Walk. Thibeault suffers from kidney failure and has dialysis treatments three times a week. It's his second year participating in the event.
At the Cornwall Kidney Walk, 70-year-old Thibeault and his family joined 150 people at Lamoureux Park to raise funds for a disease that affects 10 per cent of all Canadians.
"This is the best moral support you can get," said Thibeault.
Event coordinator Sandra Bowness knows first-hand the impact of the deadly disease. Her husband, Bill, was diagnosed with it four years ago. The shocking diagnosis changed their lives immediately. Bill had to start dialysis or face the grim reality of succumbing to the disease in a matter of weeks. The event is a way for Bowness to make noise about a fatal disease that moves in silence. She said the turnout in 2013, has tripled from the previous year.
"When I was asked to spearhead the event, I said, "I would try" and with Bruce's support, it's getting larger each year," said Bowness.
She said that treating kidney disease is a "part-time job" since her and her husband visit the hospital three times a week for his dialysis treatments.
At the event's halfway point, the total of donations was up to $5,000. Last year $8,000 was raised for the Kidney Foundation of Canada (KFOC).
"This event is really important. It's about raising money and getting the message out," said KFOC Eastern Ontario chapter senior development manager Bruce Hill. "It's a silent disease. People can be on dialysis within days. Many will be on dialysis the rest of their lives."
Hill said hyper tension, high blood pressure and diabetes are key causes of kidney disease. His statistic show that most Canadians don't see the signs and that kidneys fail up to 80 per cent before symptoms surface.
Barbershop quartet Perpetual E-motion boosted spirits with their well-blended sound and one member in particular is directly involved with the area's kidney disease patients. Other members include Mike Pearson, Len Matiowsky and Vern Simkins.
James Essex-McIntyre is a dialysis technologist who works at the Ottawa Hospital and spends several days a week in Cornwall's dialysis unit.
"Diabetes impacts Cornwall heavily," said Essex-McIntyre. "The dialysis unit is a blessing for the community, otherwise they would have to drive to Ottawa."
Thibeault, who was marching at the event side-by-side with his family, knows the sacrifices that come with kidney disease. For three days a week, he spends four to six hours at the local hospital. Like others that suffer from the disease in the area, he had to start his treatments in Ottawa, before resuming treatment at the Cornwall Community Hospital.
When he was diagnosed with kidney failure, his life took a sharp turn.
"Things slowed down a lot. After treatments I have a headache and don't feel up to par," said Thibeault.
He praised the event as a way for the public to know what kidney disease, as it raises funds for research and treatment.
Thibeault's nine-year-old grandson, David Pecore, both from Cornwall, was stuck with a giant smile as he stepped up against the disease that has greatly affected his family. Pecore was joined by Thibeault's wife Shirley, daughter Kim and granddaughter Allison.
"It's very important I walk today, because I like to support my grandfather," said Pecore.
The event also boasted a 'Motor and Pedals Ride' fundraising aspect that featured 40 motorcyclists.
For more information, visit www.kidney.ca/ontario.