North Etobicoke charity walk raises money for kidney disease research

Last year's walk raised $30,000 for polycystic kidney disease research and treatment. Photo by Javon Walker. Last year's walk raised $30,000 for polycystic kidney disease research and treatment. Photo by Javon Walker.

Correction: The original post published on Oct. 5, 2014 stated that Polycystic Kidney Disease is curable and 12.5 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.

Javon Walker
North Etobicoke Reporter

The 13th annual Toronto Walk for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) kicked off at Centennial Park in North Etobicoke on Sept. 28.

Jeff Robertson, executive director of the PKD Foundation of Canada, hosted the event and was pleased with how it has grown over the years.

“Six years ago we had less than 100 people and we raised $30,000. Last year we had over 600 people and the national campaign raised $173,000,” he said.

The money raised from the walk goes towards clinical research, as well as doctoral fellowships and increasing awareness of the disease.

The PKD Foundation of Canada, who organizes the annual event, has taken steps towards increasing their brand to raise more awareness.

Jan Roberston, herself a survivor, co-founded the PKD Foundation with her husband Doug 20 years ago.

“The first walk Doug (her husband) and I ran there was only about 30 people there and we made approximately $3000, so to be at the walk on Sunday and see probably 650 people there, approximately, to have all that money raised is just unbelievable for us,” Robertson said.

The foundation also raised their level of awareness in Toronto with televisions in TTC subways displaying an ad promoting the event.

Yvan Baker, Liberal MPP from the Etobicoke Centre riding, and former Liberal MPP Donna Cansfield were in attendance for the walk and cut the race rope to officially start the walk. It was Cansfield’s third consecutive time attending the event.

PKD is hereditary and a relatively common disease, Robertson said, noting 12.5 million people are at risk of inheriting PKD.

“This is a 1 in 500 statistic, so this is a huge demographic,” Robertson said.

“If one has a kidney disease in their family it is highly encouraged that they get checked out, get tested and monitor their health,” he said.

Nancy Brandt, who lives in Louisiana and did not attend the walk, received a kidney transplant from her husband 13 years ago.

“I am 55 years old and feel like I’m 35. I do believe I am healthier than I was before,” Brandt told Et Cetera via email.

Robertson encourages people not in the know about PKD to visit their website at to learn more and find different ways to get involved in the community.

“My mom has survived two liver transplants, so she wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for 2 deceased donors,” he said. “Organ donation is a no-brainer. It’s a selfless act. One donor can save eight lives and enhance 70 more by being an organ donor.

“Education is critical, as is self-advocacy, so take care of yourself and be your own advocate.”