"We All Shine On," walking in memory of Michael Pelaggi.

Hundreds of Torontonians gather to end kidney disease in Canada

Participants raise close to $70,000 at the High Park Kidney Walk

It was a perfect day for the Kidney Foundation of Canada to celebrate its golden anniversary.

On Saturday, over 200 participants gathered in sunny High Park at the annual Kidney Walk, to raise awareness for kidney disease and organ donation in Canada.

“This is my first year walking,” said Kidney Walk participant Claudine Pelaggi. “My husband Michael passed away in January of this year. We’ve got a lot of family here, and we’re all walking for him.”

Claudine’s team named “We all shine on,” is a tribute to her husband’s love for the Beatles. Her husband Michael Pelaggi was diagnosed with Lupus when he was only 16 years old.

“He had renal disease the rest of his life,” Pelaggi said. “He was on dialysis for 11 years, got a kidney transplant that lasted for 21 years, and it failed in September of 2009…he passed away in January of this year. He was 62.”

Walking in Michael Pelaggi’s memory, was 21 of his family members. Amongst the other participants and volunteers was the Trillium Gift of Life Network, who was there to advocate and provide information about the importance of organ donation.

“In any given month about 1,500 people are waiting for organs,” The network’s Communications Coordinator J.R. Dash said. “Two-thirds of the people on that list are waiting for kidneys. Donation is a good thing to do. It saves lives.”

Pelaggi, who’s husband had received a transplant encourages people to register to become an organ donor.

“The waiting list for kidneys is huge,” Pelaggi said. “The number of people going through dialysis is overwhelming. People should think about that when they register.”

Many of the walkers were united over the importance of organ donation in the fight to end kidney disease in Canada. Elizabeth Lam, 28, who suffers from FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis) also stressed the importance of giving back.

“I believe that people should just help each other, no matter how little the donation is,” Lam said. “Just a simple dollar counts, and I think everyone should do that.”

This year Lam was able to raise $6,000 for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Although the Kidney Walk did not reach it’s goal of $100,000, participants were still able to raise just over $68,000 for the cause.

To donate to the Kidney Foundation of Canada visit http://www.kidney.ca/. For more information on organ donation, contact the Trillium Gift of Life Network, or visit beadonor.ca.