FORT FRANCES—Eight years and still going strong, the annual “Walk for Dialysis” was another success last Friday, raising an estimated $16,000.
Rallying around the walk’s originator, Tom Bruyere, nearly 30 people walked the 20 miles from Emo to Fort Frances along the River Road in order to raise money for the local hemodialysis unit at La Verendrye Hospital here.
“I made her every step of the way,” Bruyere said minutes after arriving at North American Lumber—the endpoint of the walk—on Friday afternoon.
“I don’t know if it gets any easier, but I don’t know if gets any harder,” he added.
“We had the weather co-operate, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves,” Bruyere continued. “I think the walk is so enjoyable because you’re walking with different people, and different conversations take place.
“The six hours goes by pretty fast.”
Bruyere noted he appreciated the continuing support his walk sees—whether it’s those who make the 20-mile trek with him, volunteer with the various aspects of the walk, or the district residents who greet the walkers along the way.
“It shows people care. That’s what it really amounts to,” he stressed.
“When you have new people come on all the time, it tells you there’s an awareness out there and awareness is what we need if we’re going to keep the dialysis—and health care in general at Riverside—at the pace that it’s going right now.
“The level of support that we see from the community in all of the projects that Riverside undertakes is phenomenal.”
While the numbers haven’t been finalized, Bruyere estimated Friday that the walk brought in about $16,000, with more pledges coming in.
“I’m happy with that,” he noted.
Walking with Bruyere on Friday was a mix of those of who’d done it for years, as well as quite a few first-timers.
Among the latter was Bruyere’s niece, Dawn, who was here from Ottawa visiting relatives.
“I was happy to participate, just to support my uncle,” she noted. “I’m very proud of him having done this for the last eight years. It coincided with my visit home.”
The younger Bruyere added she was impressed with all the other people who came out to support the walk, whether with their legs, handing out water and snacks along the way, or escorting the contingent in an ambulance.
“It was wonderful. It was helpful to know the volunteers would be coming along, just saying, ‘Hi,’ and checking on you,” she added. “You feel safe and supported.”
Bruyere also said she found the walk not be to challenging—only the last two kilometres “she found hard.”
While she’s volunteered with the walk in years past, this was the first time Riverside Foundation for Health Care director Teresa Hazel walked the 20 miles with Bruyere.
“It was long, but fun,” Hazel laughed afterwards. “It’s such a social afternoon. It’s enjoyable, talking and walking.
“I’ve always been the shuttler, organizing the barbecue and shuttling cars and being the cheerleader,” she added. “This time it was cool to be part of it.
“I see what it is they go through, and it is a huge commitment for people to come out and do it. It was awesome.
“I feel great. Sore feet.”
Amanda Snowball and Paul Henderson were another pair of first-timers and truly enjoyed themselves—even though they didn’t quite make the whole 20 miles before getting a ride to finish line.
“I made it to [Highway] 611. Then that was it—I called it quits,” laughed Snowball.
“I made it just past Stewart Road,” noted Henderson.
“We’ve been walking and we just thought it would be good to try it,” added Snowball. “To see if we could do it.”
Henderson noted he had a cousin who passed away last year who’d needed dialysis, and another cousin, Alana Fyfe, who Henderson regularly drives to dialysis at La Verendrye Hospital.
“We’re doing it for them,” said Snowball.
“I’m doing it for myself, too. I don’t want to end up on dialysis myself,” stressed Henderson, adding exercise helps those with diabetes.
Snowball and Henderson encouraged others to try the walk for themselves next year, adding they’re going to aim to make it over the finish line in 2008.
“We’re going to try and finish all of it,” said Snowball.
“I think we’re going to need more practice, though,” conceded Henderson.
“I feel great,” said Neila Booth shortly after making it back to North American Lumber. “I’m pleasantly surprised [I] feel good.”
Booth was among five members of the Devlin T.O.P.S. group participating in the walk and collectively raised $900 in pledges for the cause. Her partners included Robin McCormick, Freeda Carmody, Beth Brown, and Nathasha King.
“It wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t,” said McCormick, adding she still had the energy to work an eight-hour shift later that day.
Doing it for a second year was Kathy Lampi—one of the first to make it to North American Lumber on Friday afternoon.
While she did it for a first time last year with a group from Energy Fitness here, she went it alone this time when other commitments prevented that same group from doing it again.
“I enjoyed it,” Lampi said as she enjoyed a bite to eat after the walk. “It was great. It’s fun. I’d absolutely do it again next year.
“We really get pampered and looked after so well,” added Lampi, referring to the volunteers who escort the walkers, providing water, coffee, fruit, muffins, and other snacks—and even a portable bathroom.
Richard Visser once again walked in memory of his late wife, Metta, who was a strong advocate for dialysis in Rainy River District.
The walk started at 8 a.m. on Friday, with some participants arriving at North American Lumber for lunch and refreshments shortly after 1 p.m. Bruyere and a small group arrived closer to 2:30 p.m.
Hazel noted Monday that people still are welcome to make pledges for a couple of more weeks, and all those who donate will continue to be entered in a draw to win one of several prizes donated by district businesses, including a picnic table from North American Lumber, a set of chairs and a table from Kish Gon Dug Canada, and others.
To make a pledge, contact Bruyere at 274-6221 or Hazel at 274-4803.
(Fort Frances Times)