September 18th, 2021

Hatter celebrates 75th by walking in Kidney March

By GILLIAN SLADE on September 13, 2019.

Local resident Fred Robins participated in Kidney March over three-days and raised $6,500. After completing the walk he celebrates with his daughter Rhonda MacNeil, a dialysis nurse.

Not many would consider a 100-kilometre walk the perfect way to celebrate a 75th birthday, but one local resident did.

It was not just any walk. Fred Robins took part in the annual Kidney March to raise funds for the Kidney Foundation of Canada Southern Alberta, and he raised $6,500 as well.

The three-day event took place last weekend, starting in K-Country and finishing in Calgary, attracting participants from across Canada.

One of his daughters, Rhonda MacNeil, is a dialysis nurse and so he understands the challenges faced by someone who requires dialysis and waits for a kidney transplant, he said.

“My wife Christine has diabetes and has kidney problems,” Robins added.

It seemed like a no-brainer.

“I said I’m going for a walk. I’m going for a kidney walk,” said Robins.

Just a couple days before that walk took place his niece had a brain aneurysm and died.

“She donated all of her organs. The first ones spoken for were of course her kidneys,” said Robins. “That inspired me more to march.”

Robins routinely enjoys walking but admits he spent time training for this one.

There were days when he walked all the way to Echo Dale and back to get in 33 km a day. One of the fringe benefits was the people he met along the way.

Robins has no difficulty picking the highlight of the kidney walk event.

“I felt like I was walking with family,” said Robins. “Everybody is connected some how or other to kidneys of course.”

There were 450 marchers and about 200 volunteers to cheer the walkers on or attend to their needs with food or medical support. Every three to five kilometres there are pit stops, he explained.

“There was a walker from New Zealand and quite a few walkers from Ontario, B.C and all over the place,” said Robins. “They raised $1.4 million.”

He says the training paid off because he did not even get any blisters on his feet. There were many who did get blisters and when they received medical attention they just continued walking.

On the final day they waited to make an entrance into Olympic Park in Calgary together.

“Euphoric” is how he described it.

“It was staggering. You walk in … that’s where you cross the finish line,” said Robins.

He caught sight of one of his daughters, his grandchildren and some nieces.

“It was pure elation, that they would take the time to be there,” said Robins.

Information about Alberta’s organ and tissue donation program, including about being a living donor of a kidney, is available online.

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