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Participants connect online for National Kidney Foundation walk in SWFL

Lakes Regional Park in south Fort Myers was supposed to be packed with people for a walk to support the National Kidney Foundation of Florida to help save peoples’ lives. But, instead, the park was empty due to the restrictions in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, that didn’t stop the kidney walk in Southwest Florida from taking place. Instead, everyone involved walked indoors and connected digitally, practicing social distancing.

Jennifer Arnold and her neighbors were among those who walked to save lives.

“I have something called IgA, which is something that I was born with,” Arnold said. “So I didn’t have any symptoms until I went into kidney failure.”

That was almost two years ago. And, thanks to her donor, Michelle, she’s able to keep fighting.

“It’s important for me to walk to raise awareness so that people know to have their kidneys checked,” Arnold said.

And she’s not alone. Arnold was among the dozens of people in Southwest Florida who participated in the walk online.

“Unfortunately, the needs of our patients don’t stop because something else is going on,” said Joseph Karan, the director of advocacy for the National Kidney Foundation. “They just become more critical.”

Karan says he, Arnold and others were supposed to meet at Lakes Regional, but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, plans took a different turn

“Since our needs don’t stop,” Karan said. “The way we need to raise money has to happen; otherwise, we can’t get the needs to the patients.”

And, just like they would in an actual race, together participants stretched and walked separately.

The National Kidney Foundation of Florida says it plans to continue with virtual walks until it is safe to get together. Its walks can be tracked on the foundation’s website.

“The fact that these people are willing to step up and still continue the walk and be there to raise awareness it’s just it makes me want to cry,” Arnold said.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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