90 Mile walk draws attention to hydration as essential

90 Mile walk draws attention to hydration as essential

Watching people walk the length of Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe (90 Mile Beach) has long inspired Sarah Doak.

This month, she celebrated her 50th birthday and at the same time raised funds for Kidney Health NZ by making the epic trek herself.

“It was an amazing headspace to be in, all on my own,” said Doak.

“I’m so grateful to be healthy. So many people sort of dismiss their birthdays but it’s not just another day. It’s another day that I’m here, and healthy.”

She began her journey from Tiriparepa/Scott Point and walked 23km south on her first day, followed by 30km the following.

Her husband Grant – who shares the exact same birthday and year – drove the entire distance and stopped ahead of her every kilometre of the way to write her new distance total in the sand.

The following weekend, she walked 18km each day to achieve her goal at Ahipara.

Kidney disease has touched Doak’s life closely and repeatedly, where she has spent the past four years working as a teacher aide with a hearing-impaired student at Kaitaia Primary School and will continue to do so until Carly-Rose, now 8, moves on to college.

Carly-Rose has kidney issues, as does her younger sister, and so does Doak’s own daughter, Morgan.

In fact, one in 10 people has kidney disease, making this a cause likely to touch just about all of our lives on some level.

According to Kidney Health NZ, 450,000 Kiwis were unaware they had kidney disease.

A report by the NZ Institute of Economic Research, commissioned earlier this month, outlined the future cost of kidney disease if systemic changes were not made.

The report said New Zealand currently ranked 16th in the world for its rate of renal transplantation.

“In ten years, we’ll have 30 per cent more kidney patients, costing an additional $15,000,000 per year,” Kidney Health NZ General Manager Michael Campbell said.

Citing 2020 data from the Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry, Campbell said prevalence of end-stage kidney disease in Northland was disproportionately high.

“Everyone should get tested. You’re fairly asymptomatic until you’re not,” Campbell said.

He described the testing as simple, requiring blood pressure and urine tests, as well as a $10 tick of one box on a blood work form.

He said taking proactive care of your kidneys was essential.

“This requires hydration, exercise, eating a healthy balanced diet, avoiding processed foods and smoking, as well as managing your underlying blood sugar or blood pressure conditions,” Campbell said.

“Hydration needs vary from person to person, but eight cups or two litres of water a day is good for a healthy person in regular climate conditions, with more required if you’re very active or it’s hot outside.

“In addition to drinking enough water, people should avoid highly sugared and caffeinated drinks.”

Thanks to Sarah-Rose’s needs and Doak’s awareness of protecting kidney health, all toilets at Kaitaia Primary School have charts that teach students and staff to observe the colour of their urine and heed its call for hydration.

Principal Brendon Morrissey said he was very proud of what Sarah was achieving for the school and the community.

“We totally support what Sarah has been doing and believe anyone who helps kids is fantastic,” Morrissey said.

“The signs have been very informative and it’s helpful for both staff and children to know about hydration levels which is a very important topic.”

Since late last year, the school has had contactless hydration stations whereby children can get access to the water through the use of a foot pedal.

Morrisey added some teachers had even purchased classroom water bottles so the issue of not having a water bottle or forgetting to bring one from home was never an issue.

So far Doak has raised $1500 to date on her Givealittle page, with donations accepted until today (November 30). To donate to the cause, visit givealittle.co.nz and search “Walking Ninety Mile for kidney fundraising and awareness.”

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