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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Alabama Kidney Foundation wants to help.
The organization held kidney disease awareness walks across the state Saturday morning.

While this year’s walk was virtual, in Huntsville the group also held a celebratory drive-by with music and cupcakes; and an opportunity to make last-minute donations to AKF’s spring fundraising campaign.

AKF reports Alabama is ranked #1 in the nation per capita for kidney dialysis patients. There are around 2,000 people in the state who need a kidney transplant.

“Out of all the transplants needed, the kidney is the most needed in the state of Alabama,” AKF Development and Communications Director Rebecca Smith said.

The walk’s Patient Chair is Tony Gann, who has been deeply impacted by this disease.

“I’ve had a kidney transplant. Both my brothers have. Out of 14 children in my mother’s family, 7 had the disease,” Gann said.

The organization donates money to help those who need dialysis to treat kidney.

“There’s about 14-thousand total Alabamians that rely on weekly dialysis treatments to sustain life,” Smith said.

They can be expensive and time consuming, requiring treatments multiple times a week.

“Most of the time, patients are unable to continue regular jobs, regular employment. That is why the need is so great for financial assistance,” Smith said.

This season, AKF raised more than $80,000 in the Tennessee Valley alone thanks to local fundraising partners.

“Kidney disease affects patients across all spectrums, all income levels, races. It’s a dire need in our state and this day will help address the need of some of those patients,” Ron Gray said.

Ron and Cindy Gray run Thompson-Gray and Gray Analytics. This is their first year helping to raise money with AKF. Their team also designed this year’s Kidney Walk t-shirts.

For ex-patients like Gann, he knows all too well why supporting organizations through events like the walk is crucial to help the thousands across Alabama fighting this disease.