Rain fails to dampen annual dialysis walk

Despite the wind, rain, and thunderclaps, a group of about 20 walkers made their way more than 20 miles from Emo to Fort Frances with a single cause in mind.
The sixth-annual “Walk for Dialysis,” once again headed by Tom Bruyere, took place Friday. And every walker made it back to North American Lumber on King’s Highway here, although the rain did cause some delay.
“It was a little bit uncomfortable but when you consider what you’re doing it for, it’s worth it,” said Armand Jourdain Sr., who completed the walk for the third time this year.
Jourdain’s mother, Ivaline, passed away this past February from renal failure. She had been on dialysis for nearly three years.
“It meant a little bit more to me this year,” he said of the annual walk, which once again was dedicated to the memory of the late Metta Visser, who had been instrumental in bringing the dialysis program to Rainy River District.
Sandy Bruyere also was walking for a family member.
“My dad has been in dialysis since 1997,” said the first-time participant. “I thought this would be a good way to support him.”
Bruyere was the first to complete the walk this year, with a time of five hours and 26 minutes. And despite the inclement weather, he said he would gladly do it again next year.
“It’s nice out there. It’s great scenery,” he remarked.
For Alana Fyfe, the walk was a milestone. She is a dialysis patient herself at La Verendrye Hospital here.
“I’m the crazy one,” she laughed during the first leg of the journey.
Fyfe was so excited to be taking part, in fact, that she bought herself some new running shoes and rose at 5 a.m. on the big day. She ended the journey in good spirits—despite some blisters on her feet and a toenail that had turned blue.
“I’m exhausted. I’ll just get my head examined and I’ll be fine,” she said, laughing.
Fyfe walked along side another first-timer, Steve Mainville.
“If I can walk 18 miles to get two bottles of wine, I can do this,” he laughed when asked why he decided to participate this year.
Although she only had the strength to walk about half the journey, Fyfe was pleased with her performance—and was filled with admiration for her fellow walkers.
“It poured out there. They were walking in thunder and lightning. But everyone had smiles on their faces. I was amazed,” she enthused. “It was really fun.”
“It was excellent,” agreed Tom Bruyere. “We had a little bit of wet weather, but overall it was one of the most comfortable years we’ve ever had.”
Bruyere added he was pleased with the number of people who came out to walk along the River Road, noting there were a few new participants as well as some familiar faces.
“We had some younger people out, even one who’s taking dialysis treatment,” he said.
Some of the regular walkers included Lori Green, who works as a registered nurse in the dialysis unit, Lavana Fox, Wilma Yerxa-Bird, and Richard Visser.
Bruyere himself raised about $6,000, but noted more donations often come in after the walk is over. “Whatever it is, it’s more than what we had yesterday,” he reasoned.
So far, the walkers raised about $10,000 although Teresa Hazel, director of the Riverside Foundation for Health Care and one of the organizers behind the “Walk for Dialysis,” said donations still are coming in.
The money will go towards the new dialysis unit in the Phase IV expansion at La Verendrye. The equipment will be moved into the new unit this Sunday.
“Moving into a permanent location will make life a little simpler for staff, and certainly for people receiving treatment,” Bruyere remarked.
The Thunder Bay Regional Hospital opened a satellite renal dialysis program here in the fall of 2001. There currently are 23 patients receiving dialysis—a procedure that cleanses the blood of impurities.
Bruyere, who turns 60 this week, said it may be time for someone younger to take over the walk. “I’m not getting any younger and the miles aren’t getting any shorter,” he admitted.
Bruyere has had diabetes for 32 years, and also has had heart bypass surgery. “I probably push a little harder than I should be, but that’s what keeps me going,” he said.
He also extended a big thanks to everyone who took part in the event, whether by walking, sponsoring walkers, or donating their time and services.
The walkers and their supporters all enjoyed hot dogs and refreshments, courtesy of The Place Fine Foods, at North American Lumber from 1:30-2:30 p.m.