Perfect weather for the Fifth Annual Utica Kidney Walk

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A couple hundred people walked the campus of the Masonic Care Community on Sunday to raise awareness and money for kidney disease.

Local National Kidney Foundation spokesperson Anne Ziemann says she would like to see more people who do not know someone with kidney disease participate in the walk.

She says people need to know, prevention of kidney disease should be a lot higher on people's radar. She said, "watching your weight, getting exorcize, trying to avoid becoming a diabetic if you can, sometimes it's not possible."

Ziemann says diabetes and related heart problems have been known to cause kidney disease, but there are many cases where the cause is not known.

Among the teams of people raising money to help the National Kidney Foundation was 'Team Levi'.

The group is made up of family members and friends of Levi Bartlett, a three year old boy from Sauquoit, whose kidneys shut down shortly after birth, and a year later had a kidney transplant in Boston.

Local National Kidney Foundation Program Director Laura Squadrito says Levi was the youngest dialysis patient ever in Central New York. She said, "He was our youngest dialysis patient ever in 13 counties, so thrilled to have him get a kidney transplant, I mean, what a gift of life, you can see that the gift of life goes from little babies, up to the elderly."

Squadrito adds, '"We're really here today to raise awareness of kidney disease, of the need to be organ donors, and Levi is a perfect case/example as to how it changes somebody's life."

Among the walkers was Nate Wadsworth of Utica, who is now 36 and has been on dialysis for 14 years since he was 22.

Wadsworth says his kidney disease was caused when he got sick. He said, "Walking pneumonia, strep throat, the medicine didn't help it. So I just kept on getting sicker and sicker. My blood pressure was high...always healthy, I bowled three times a week, and it just came all of a sudden."

Both of Wadsworth's kidneys shut right down and is connected to a dialysis machine five hours at a time, three times every week. He says it's almost like a part time job...but instead of getting paid, he's being kept alive.

Local National Kidney Foundation Director of Events John Bonura says thanks to money raised at this year's walk, there will be a program offered here in Utica in the coming months to get people screened for kidney disease.

The program is called KEEP, which stands for Kidney Early Evaluation Program. He said, "if there's a problem, it will show up in the blood work, same thing with a urine sample, and when we have our keep screenings, people go through both of those tests right at the screening."

Bonura says he will keep the media informed when the date and location are set for the KEEP screening, and we will pass that information along to you.

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