JOPLIN, Mo. — Many people laced up their walking shoes to raise awareness for a deadly disease.

The 9th Annual March O’ the Kidney event hosted by Freeman Health System was held inside Joplin’s Northpark Mall.

It features a one-mile walk to raise awareness for chronic kidney disease.

It also provides a way for people to honor loved ones that have passed away from the disease, and celebrate those that were victorious in their battle.

Registration was $15 for participants.

Attendees also had a chance to purchase raffle tickets for various gift baskets, donated by community members.

100 percent of the money raised from today’s event will go toward Freeman’s dialysis patient assistance fund.

“We use that money to help those in our community. Every penny stays within the Freeman system and we use it to help dialysis patients meet the needs they have for medicines, durable medical equipment, transportation to specialty appointments, just all kinds of things. When our patients need to go to see someone about their dialysis access or to start the transplant process, they have to travel for that and we can help them with those travel costs to those specialty appointments, to make sure they get the help that they need,” said Teri Williams, Freeman Administrative Director of Dialysis Services.

One participant in this morning’s walk was Dan Turner Jr.

He, along with members of his family, has participated in this event each year, since it started.

Their motivation is Turner Jr’s father.

He was a kidney dialysis patient, himself, who wanted to walk in the first ever event.

That request was granted, as he participated in the event with family members the year of the inaugural event.

Unfortunately, he passed away before the second annual walk took place.

Since then, it’s been a desire for Turner Jr. to honor his late father’s mission.

“For dad, it was important to help people who were suffering and even though he was in all the pain and everything he was, he always said there were people who were worse off than he was, so he wanted to help them. So, we joined him and since then, we’ve always wanted to carry that legacy. My mom was a big part of it. She rallied the troops every year and we all became a part of it. We lost her to COVID, so the rest of us have joined in and carried the torch,” said Dan Turner Jr., Walk Participant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say chronic kidney disease is a leading cause of death in adults in the U.S.

They also say around 15 percent of the American population have the condition, with many of them going undiagnosed.

To donate to Freeman Health System’s Patient Dialysis Assistance Fund, click here.