Kidney Foundation kicks off Kidney Health Month with #SixDegreeChallenge

Image via the Kidney Foundation.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada is launching the annual #SixDegreeChallenge on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022, to shine a spotlight on kidney health as a vital health issue, and raise important funds to support Canadians affected by kidney disease.

“Four million Canadians — that’s one in 10 — live with kidney disease. Despite being vital organs, kidneys are all too often overlooked or ignored as part of our overall health,” said Dr. Norman Muirhead, President of The Kidney Foundation’s Ontario Branch. “That is, until you or someone you love is affected.”

The #SixDegreeChallenge is calling on all Ontarians to help reduce the high burden of kidney disease by showing their support online and challenging others to do the same, according to a release from the foundation. Six Degree Challengers from across the province are kick-starting the conversation and sharing their experience with kidney disease to bring this often-invisible disease into the spotlight.

“Our son, Bennett, was born with kidney disease, a diagnosis we did not think could happen at such an early age,” shared local mom, Nikki Wagar, pictured with Bennett above. “At just 10 days old, he had emergency surgery to save his life at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. After surgery, we learned he had one functioning kidney, which was going to need a transplant by the time he was two.”

The Wagar family became involved with the Kidney Foundation in order to better support their son, knowing that kidney disease will be a life-long experience.

“This was obviously a lot of information and news to take in as new parents, but we tried to maintain as much positivity as we could and do all that we could to support Bennett with his (our) kidney disease journey,” Wagar continued. “The Six Degree Challenge was one of our first fundraising events.”

Bennett’s kidney function level has since evened out and a transplant is not yet necessary for the young boy, Wagar shared. “We still monitor his kidney function regularly and are proactive with his lifestyle choices to help his kidney disease diagnosis,” she stated.

Wagar said that this fundraiser is of great importance to them because it allows them to tell their story about how kidney disease can be diagnosed at such a young age.

The Kidney Foundation is encouraging all Ontarians to join the #SixDegreeChallenge on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, beginning March 1. ‘Challengers’ can participate by posting a picture of themselves throwing up “the six” (holding up six fingers), sharing their connection to kidney disease, and tagging six friends in the caption, nominating them to do the same.

“The fundraiser also allows us to connect with people from across our community, Ontario, Canada, and even internationally when they hold up six fingers to show support to kidney disease! Let’s hold up six fingers, tag six friends and use the #SixDegreeChallenge to support people living with kidney disease,” Wagar encouraged. “Help build a better kidney health for all —- donate today!”

On World Kidney Day, March 10, the Foundation will host a 24-hour day of giving. Donations can be made online at www.sixdegreechallenge.com, or by calling 1-800-387-4474 throughout Kidney Health Month.

All funds raised will provide programming and services for Canadians affected by kidney disease, and fund kidney research to improve treatments and ultimately discover a cure, according to the foundation.

Canadians can bridge the knowledge gap and learn how important the mighty kidney is to their overall health by using The Kidney Foundation’s interactive risk awareness tool. Simply answer a few questions about lifestyle, health, and related factors to learn about the risk factors for kidney disease and tips to protect and preserve kidney health.

For more information on kidney disease and the #SixDegreeChallenge, visit www.kidney.ca

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