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October 28, 2013

Oneonta Kidney Walk hits 5-year mark

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The Daily Star

---- — According to the Northeast Kidney Foundation, one out of nine people have kidney disease. But these odds didn’t stop Garry Murray, community relations specialist at the Northeast Kidney Foundation, from dancing around SUNY Oneonta’s Alumni Fieldhouse at the Oneonta Walk for Kidneys on Sunday. 

Murray does this at least 10 times annually throughout the Northeast to raise money and awareness for the cause.

“Kidney disease is slow and silent ... some of the symptoms are excessive fatigue and nausea,” Murray said. “That’s why we encourage people to get checked annually.”

Some of the money raised by the 2013 Oneonta Walk for Kidneys will go toward the foundation’s local free kidney screenings, as well as patient services such as support groups, rides to dialysis and even assistance with rent.

Linda Drake, director of SUNY Oneonta’s Center for Social Responsibility and Community, said this was the fifth year that Oneonta held a Kidney Walk, and the first year that it has been done without the help of a Greek organization.

Picking up the event this year were SUNY Oneonta professor Oscar Oberkircher and three of his Event Management students: Chelsea Berg, Taylor Milliken and Marie Militano. 

Berg, a senior, said she and her classmates began planning the event with the CSRC in mid-September. They were in charge of the details, including games and activities, booking the entertainment, and food.

“The purpose is to engage college students, give the event planning students real-life experience with organizing an event like this, and, of course, to support the Northeast Kidney Foundation,” Oberkircher said. 

He said he has been around kidney disease his whole life because his father was a pediatric nephrologist (kidney doctor).

“It can strike anyone,” he said. “Young or old, any race. This is why it is so important to raise awareness.”

The walk kicked off at 11 a.m. and featured activities such as Jumbo Jenga, video games, a hula hoop contest and letter writing to people with kidney disease. The college’s Chamber Singers and Kickline performed, with music by DJ Burgy B in between. 

Dr. Raquel Rosen, chief of nephrology at Bassett Healthcare, spoke on behalf of the organization, which was a sponsor of the walk. 

“I think it’s really great that students are gaining awareness and doing this,” Rosen said. 

She emphasized the importance of screening and awareness of family history.

“The screening is easy,” Rosen said. “It consists of looking at your blood pressure and weight, and a urine analysis.” 

Rosen said that people with diabetes and high blood pressure are at increased risk, as well as anyone who smokes cigarettes. As you get older, she said, your risk for kidney disease increases.

The student organizers seemed pleased with the result of their project.

“Despite it being a Sunday morning, people are coming out!” Militano said. “We did our best.”

For more information about the Northeast Kidney Foundation, visit www.healthykidneys.org.