Sunshine Coast blokes rally for kidney health

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Bruce Chamberlain and Graeme Meade of Team Sunshine Blokes Kar97 in the Kidney Kids Kar Rally in their Sunshine gear.

After a successful campaign in the 2023 Kidney Kids Kar Rally, Bruce Chamberlain of Black Mountain and Graeme Meade of Eumundi have committed to re-joining Kidney Health Aust (KHA) in 2024, to raise funds towards young children and youths suffering kidney disease.

Last year the men who formed team ‘Sunshine Blokes Kar97’ far surpassed their fundraising goal of $3000 by raising more than $8,500 with the total 2023 KKR event raising almost $400,000. This year the blokes fundraising target is $5000 and the objective for the car rally, the biggest fundraiser for kidney disease nationally, is $500,000.

“Since participating in the 2023 Kidney Kar Rally we have been awakened by the need to support kids and their families suffering from kidney disease,” Graeme said.

“Unfortunately the numbers of young diagnosed with kidney disease is climbing, it’s a secret killer with no cure, and well worthy of our efforts to support it.“

Graeme has discovered the more people he speaks to about kidney disease the more he hears about friends or relatives suffering from the disease and the life-shortening impact of it.

According to Transplant Australia people needing a kidney transplant can wait five to seven years.

The Australian Government Organ and Tissue authority said there were about 1750 people waiting for an organ transplant and a further 13,000 on dialysis, who may need a transplant.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) said chronic kidney disease (CKD) was generally not diagnosed until it had reached advanced stages where symptoms become more apparent.

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys can no longer function adequately, at which point people require kidney replacement therapy (KRT) – a kidney transplant or dialysis – to survive.

AIHW figures from 2011-12 showed 1.7 million or 11 per cent of the population had signs of CKD and the incidence was growing.

CKD is largely preventable because many of its risk factors including high blood pressure, tobacco smoking and obesity are modifiable and other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are also risk factors for CKD, according to AIHW.

“The more you learn about kidney disease the more you want to look after yourself,“ Graeme said.

For more than 50 years, Kidney Health Australia has connected people to information, education and support services they need to preserve their kidney health and live a better quality of life if they are diagnosed with kidney disease.

“On diagnosis of kidney disease, the healthcare system can be difficult to access and navigate for kids, young people, and their families,” a Kidney Health Australia spokesperson said.

“Normal developmental activities such as school attendance, building friendships, forming career aspirations, and participating in community activities can all be negatively impacted by kidney disease.”

The Kidney Kar Rally, now in its 35th year, is a fun event that involves multiple teams driving thousands of kilometres across the countryside with one ambition – to change the lives of children and young people affected by kidney disease.

This year the rally will be held from 3-10 August with the rally cars taking on the challenging dirt tracks of New South Wales and South Australia.

Co-drivers Graeme and Bruce will again be travelling in the Mitsubishi Lancer that survived last year’s venture. It is now known affectionately as Skippy after a run in with a kangaroo on the last day of the 2023 KKR. It was suggested they keep the ‘Sunshine’ theme with costumes to match.

Among their accolades last year was the award to novice drivers for being the biggest fundraisers. They came in ninth place overall and also won the title of oldest drivers.

“We had a great time. It’s a story of adventure and devotion to a cause,” Graeme said.

Their car is yet to be decked out in this year’s rally clobber including stickers with the names of sponsors, some from last year having already committed to sponsor them again.

At present they are seeking donations and sponsors from the community, with all money donated going directly to Kidney Health Australia.

“If we can make life more comfortable for these kids than it’s worthwhile,“ Graeme said.

To donate to help Graeme and Bruce achieve their fundraising aim, visit fundraise.kidney.org.au/fundraisers/SunshineBlokesKar97

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