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Walk and family fun day raises money for local residents, kidney screenings

PLATTSBURGH What do music, clowns, sports clinics, auctions and raffles all have in common? They were all a part of the first annual Family Fun Day and Kidney Walk at Clinton Community College March 30. Although the Kidney Walk has been a part of the Plattsburgh area for the past three years, this year, the Kidney Dialysis Unit at Plaza Boulevard decided to do something a little different. By bringing people out and combining the family activities, we thought wed reach more people, said Carol LaFleur, executive director of the National Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York. The purpose of the Kidney Walk was to provide people with free kidney disease screenings, which was an option at the event. They also wanted to raise money for those with kidney disease to help with the transportation funds to get to and from dialysis, explained LaFleur. According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidneys not only remove waste and fluid from the body, but regulate blood pressure, remove drugs and toxins that may enter the body, as well as many other vitally important jobs. Kidney disease may hinder the ability to do this and eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. We encourage anyone who has diabetes or high blood pressure to go through the screening, explained LaFleur. Those are the two leading risk factors. Along with these risk factors, there are other conditions that may affect the kidneys, including lupus and other diseases that affect the bodys immune system. My sister has lupus, said Donna Dixon, basketball and soccer coach at Clinton Community College. Her kidneys were shutting down and she had to go on dialysis. Her sister knew she would eventually need an organ donation so Ms. Dixon volunteered to donate one of hers, because she was a good match. The surgery took place in 2000 and was a success. Now, Ms. Dixon is involved with the Kidney Walk and partakes in the event herself. I was kind of the go-between, between Carol and the college, she explained. Dixon walked about a mile and also took part in the paper airplane toss an event sponsored by Allegiant Air to see whose airplane could fly farthest. The winner, Cindy Reynolds, received two tickets to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. All that was asked for was a $5 donation to the National Kidney Foundation. Money was also raised at the event through sponsoring. People who walked at the event could be sponsored and raised money by how many laps were completed. Overall, the day-long event raised more than $8,500. These funds will help kidney patients right in the Plattsburgh community and will also be used to screen additional people for this disease that affects one out of nine adults, said LaFleur, who added it is not too late to support the National Kidney Foundation. People may still support the walk by visiting www.kidneywalk.org or by dropping off or mailing a donation to the H.K. Freedman Renal Center, 91 Plaza Boulevard, Plattsburgh N.Y. 12901.

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