Oswego holds Kidney Awareness walk

Sunday will mark Oswego State’s second consecutive year hosting an awareness walk for the National Kidney Foundation and the fourth consecutive year for the City of Oswego.

The walk is being sponsored by the women’s club volleyball team and roughly 300 participants are expected to attend. The goal of the walk is to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation and to raise awareness of chronic kidney diseases.

Ashleigh Gerstner, former president of the women’s club volleyball team, said she was honored the club could host the kidney walk.

"I feel that it is important to show the community that organizations from campus are willing to cooperate in fundraisers," Gerstner said. "I feel that it is important to show support to good causes.

When the kidney walk began four years ago, it was held at Breitbeck Park in the City of Oswego. It was moved to the Oswego State campus two years ago as a way to get students involved and make them more aware of chronic kidney disease.

"[We] want to encourage students to be involved and also raise money for the cause," said Laura Squadrito, director of programs for the National Kidney Foundation of Central New York. "It was a blast having it on campus."

Kidney walks held at Oswego State the past have raised around $20,000 to $25,000. The money raised for the walk is used to fund programs and services offered by the National Kidney Foundation for patients with kidney disease. Such programs and services include crisis funding for families of patients, family support programs and Kidney Early Evaluation Program, screenings, which identifies the risk level for the disease.

"[It] is preventable with proper early detection," Squadrito said, referring to the disease as a "silent killer."

It is one of the most undetected chronic diseases as well.

"Doctors do a very good job at treating diabetes but don’t take the further step in treating the kidneys. Many patients come to us and ask why doctors can’t treat them; we say ‘well they can, but they overlook it.’"

Kidney disease, which is a loss of the kidney’s function to remove waste from the body, is primarily caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. It is not curable because once the kidneys are damaged, full function cannot come back. Those who are most at risk include African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, seniors and those who have a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure.

"It’s so important to maintain blood pressure, know your cholesterol, do routine blood checks and get your GFR calculated," Squadrito said.

GFR, or glomerular filtration rate, calculates the best overall index of kidney function. If these simple steps are taken, kidney disease can be predicted years before it occurs, or proper medication can be given to prevent further damage.

Currently, the disease affects 1.2 million people and 240 people are waiting for kidney transplants in New York alone. The cost of the disease is also staggering.

Dialysis treatment, which keeps the body in balance like regular kidneys would, removes waste and controls blood pressure, and can cost patients up to $75,000 a year. However, the federal government pays 80 percent of dialysis costs for most patients.

The National Kidney Foundation of Central New York serves more than 1,500 patients each year. All proceeds raised at the 2010 Kidney Walk will be used by the foundation to help patients and their families.

Teams for the event are already forming at www.kidneywalk.org, however, registration the day of the event begins at 10 a.m. at the campus center with the walk following at 11 a.m. in the Swetman gym. Registration for the walk is free.