By Wendy Sarubbi | April 2, 2012 12:26 pm

One out of nine Americans suffers from chronic kidney disease, and on March 25, 600 people – including UCF Health physicians and College of Medicine students and staff members – participated in a 5K walk to raise money to fight the disease.

UCF Health was a platinum sponsor of the National Kidney Foundation 2012 Orlando Kidney Walk held on the UCF Campus and won second place in the “Friends and Family” category for the $1,000+ it raised.  Part of the money came from a raffle for a Dooney & Burke handbag donated by the mother of a 14-year-old kidney transplant recipient. Denise Kay, assistant director of faculty development, was the lucky winner of the raffle.

The College of Medicine team – called UCFCOM Cares for Kidneys – was led by M-2 student Dennrik Abrahan and Dr. Abdo Asmar, a nephrologist at UCF Health. Overall, the Orlando walk raised more than $64,000 for research and help for patients and families impacted by kidney disease.

Dr. Asmar welcomed the walkers with a rousing speech that drew applause from the participants. “Today we would like to honor those who are on dialysis, kidney transplant recipients, kidney donors and those who lost their lives to kidney disease,” he said. “And those of us who are blessed with normal kidney function, take a minute to appreciate what these wonderful organs do for you on a second-by-second basis to keep you alive.”

Because so many people in the crowd had been affected by kidney disease, Dr. Asmar urged everyone to “share our stories with each other” as they walked.

Dr. Leonardo Oliveira, a UCF Health specialist in internal medicine and sports medicine, carried a UCF Health banner as he participated in the walk. The College of Medicine UCF Health team also passed out information on the clinical practice which is located just two blocks from the UCF Campus.

Dr. Asmar urged participants to continue their efforts even after the walk. “I encourage each and every one of us to keep this great momentum going,” he said. “Let’s sustain this passion and enthusiasm so there comes a day when we have a cure for kidney disease.”

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