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Clemis clan raising awareness

Posted on August 1, 2014 by Vauxhall Advance

A team of Taberites is back raising funds for kidney research in support of the upcoming Kidney March in September.

Participating as part of team “Nephron Fabulous” in 2014 will be Jan Clemis, Robin Pickerell, Carli Bekkering, and Blair Clemis. Spanning Sept. 5-7, the event sees marchers trek 100 kilometres from Kananaskis Country to Calgary.

“They’ve all done it before. The first year, which was 2010, we had a team of eight,” said marcher Jan Clemis. “It was a little bit bigger and broader with eight of us. That was the inaugural year. They hold it kind of always in the same place — they had to change it last year because of the floods — but we start at Millarville Race Track, we walk through Kananaskis Country, and then we finish the third day at Canada Olympic Park.”

Clemis, who suffers from kidney disease herself, along with members of her family, has participated in the Kidney March since its inception.

“We march into the park, and then we come down, and everyone accumulates at the very top, and then we all come down as a group. And then we get to meet our families, and have some closing ceremonies. It’s pretty emotional, everyone has done this ardous journey together, and you get to meet so many people that are well connected with that common thread. Everyone has their own story.”

Not exactly a “walk in the park”, the Kidney March sees marchers put in some fairly ardous days to reach their destination on time.

“The first two days are the long days. We do 38 kilometres, and 37 kilometres, and then the last day is the short day, we just do 25 kilometres,” said Clemis.

Many members of Clemis’ family have polycystic kidney disease, a condition passed on genetically that sees cysts develop from the nephrons (filtering units) of the kidneys, which enlarges them and eventually prevents the proper filtration of blood.

“We’ve always been connected, because we have a genetic kidney disease within our family. Both of my daughters have it, I got it from my dad, who got it from his mom. I have a sister and nephew, and aunt and uncle, and some cousins with PKD. So it’s really close to our heart.”

Clemis is also a firm supporter of organ donation of any kind, not just for sufferers of kidney disease, but for all afflictions.

“One of the main reasons why we march is for research into all various kidney diseases, but another important part of why we do the Kidney March is to promote organ donation,” said Clemis.

Fundraising for the team is already well underway, with a target figure set for each marcher participating of $2,200. The team is hoping to raise $8,000 in total.

A team bake sale will be held at the Bank of Montreal on Aug. 8, and will feature jams and fudge.

“We’re having a garage sale the August long weekend, and we’re going to be doing some bottle drives around Taber, and possibly some bake sales, too,” said Clemis.

Clemis encouraged everyone to have their blood pressure checked regularly, as the condition can have a damaging impact on kidney function.

“Kidney research, organ donation, and the Kidney Foundation also lends support to those families that need support in one way or another, if they have dialysis questions, if they need transportation — a lot of the funds raised go to assist those families that are in need that have kidney issues. For education, its just so important for everyone to get their blood pressure checked every so often, because that does a huge amount of damage to the kidney, and often times we don’t realize we have blood pressure issues until it’s too late and the damage is irreversible. With our demographics in Alberta, kidney disease is more prone to our Asian populations, and our First Nations populations.”

Taber is a community that is always willing to support a worthy cause, and has opened their hearts and pocketbooks in the past, according to Clemis.

“I’m always greatful for all the support I get here in Taber. Even though I don’t live here anymore, this is home. There’s a feel of family when I walk down the street. It’s a great place.”

Individuals who might be interested in making a contribution to team Nephron Fabulous can contact 403-849-1862 or 780-843-6962, or can go online to and search for the team name, or a marcher’s name.

to make a contribution.


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