Kidney Walk honouree will soon practice what she preaches

Shelley Hunt is ideally suited to be the honouree for the 2014 Kidney Walk on Sunday in Penticton.

Shelley Hunt and three-year-old son Leyland were at Gyro Park this week promoting the Sept. 21 annual Kidney Walk. Shelley is this year's honouree and will soon be donating one of her own kidneys to help someone who is desperately in need of a transplant. Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. and gets underway at 10 a.m. at Gyro.

Shelley Hunt and three-year-old son Leyland were at Gyro Park this week promoting the Sept. 21 annual Kidney Walk. Shelley is this year's honouree and will soon be donating one of her own kidneys to help someone who is desperately in need of a transplant. Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. and gets underway at 10 a.m. at Gyro.

Just weeks away from becoming an organ donor, Shelley Hunt is ideally suited to be the honouree for the 2014 Kidney Walk on Sunday in Penticton.

The annual event raises money to increase organ donation, fund research, support kidney patients and educate the public about kidney health, all of which are causes close to Hunt’s heart.

She’s a co-founder of the Because I Can project, created in 2012 to help share stories of organ donors and recipients in a bid to increase the number of people willing to give a part of themselves to others.

Hunt, 31, will find out what it’s like first-hand in early October when she gives up one of her kidneys to help a six-year-old Langley boy.

She won’t donate directly to him, but rather is part of a chain that will see her travel to Ontario for the procedure.  Her kidney will then go to an anonymous recipient and trigger someone else’s gift to the Langley boy.

“I’m so excited,” said Hunt, who insisted she’s not at all scared about going under the knife.

“I can’t explain it, but I’m just totally not.”

Hunt first began thinking about organ donation in 2012 when a pamphlet about it arrived in her mail and she decided to research the subject. After learning about the need for donors, she felt compelled to help and soon after launched Because I Can, which is also lobbying for government to switch the organ donor registry system to an opt-out model, rather than the opt-in system that exists today.

Walk organizer Teresa Atkinson said that’s precisely why Hunt was selected.

“One of the things we wanted to do is showcase the amazing people we have here, especially in Penticton, who donate their kidneys with no connection to the recipients,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson is expecting up to 200 people to participate in this year’s walk, which will begin from Gyro Park, rather than Riverside Park as it has in past years.

Registration for the 2.5-kilometre walk or five-kilometre fun run opens at 9 a.m., and participants will set out at 10 a.m. Those looking to join, start a team, or download a donation form can do so now at www.kidney.ca/bcrun.

Anyone who donates to the run will be entered to win use of the White Kennedy Chartered Accountants luxury suite at the South Okanagan Events Centre for an upcoming Penticton Vees game.