Walker keeps memory alive
Pays tribute to sister's lengthy battle with kidney disease
Sarah Tuohey has walked the West Vancouver Seawalk many times in her life.
On the morning of Sunday, Aug. 22, she plans to stroll the seaside again -- this time, lacing up her runners for a special cause.
Aug. 22 marks Tuohey's first involvement in the North Shore Kidney Walk, a fundraiser made particularly meaningful by the fact that Tuohey is this year's silver sponsor. She will be walking in memory of her late sister Genevieve "Genny" Castilla Haughton-Jarvis, who, in recognition of her ability to inspire others, became this year's North Shore Kidney Walk honouree.
As the oldest of three children, Tuohey speaks candidly about the difficult moments of her childhood, when Genny would remain in hospital for extended periods of time. "We nearly lost her twice when she was younger. We knew that one day she would have to be on dialysis," she says.
Though Tuohey has always maintained a level of involvement with the Kidney Foundation, she says that raising awareness has become somewhat of a way of life since her sister's fatal heart attack in April 2008. "Everybody that knows me, knows my sister's story," she says.
As a 31-year-old mother, Genny's death came as a considerable shock, particularly to her son. Yet, according to Tuohey, her sister's passing was not entirely unforeseen. Diagnosed at the age of two, Genny, like others who suffer from kidney disease, struggled with high blood pressure for most of her life.
On the day of the walk, Tuohey will also be volunteering alongside her mother and North Shore kidney walk co-ordinator, Arleen Asi. "Last year, I believe they were able to raise over $20,000," says Asi, who is hopeful that this year's event will draw more participants and be even more successful than the last. The fundraiser, which gives participants the option of walking 2.5 kilometres or running five km, will also include a pancake breakfast, entertainment, prizes, face painting, a silent auction, as well as a wrap-up barbecue lunch. Funds raised go towards the B.C. branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Tuohey points out that there are also other ways people can contribute. "It is not just about the money, it's about becoming an organ donor too. A lot of people need to be educated about that," she says.
According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, an estimated 145,000 British Columbians suffer from chronic kidney disease, and, as of the spring of 2010, close to 250 B.C. patients are on a waiting list to receive a kidney. With the aging population and the subsequent increase in diabetes and high blood pressure, it's expected that the number of individuals who develop kidney disease will rise up to 30 per cent each year.
For those interested in participating in this year's North Shore Kidney Walk, which takes place at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver on Sunday, Aug. 22 between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., call 1-800-576-8112 or 604-537-0233 or visit www.kidney.ca/bcwalk to register.
Participants can also register in person on the day of the event starting at 8:30 a.m.
Those unable to participate, but who would like to register as an organ donor, can visit www.transplant.bc.ca.