Upwards of 650 people gathered at the Millarville Racetrack on Friday morning to support kidney disease research.

The Kidney March, hosted by the Kidney Foundation of Canada, is the largest fundraiser of its kind in the country for kidney research.

Marchers will spend three days walking 100 kilometres through Kananaskis Country to Calgary.

This year, organizers set a goal to raise $1 million for research and they’ve exceeded that amount already but donations are still being counted.

Joyce Van Deurzen is the executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada Southern Alberta branch and says the tenth anniversary march is the biggest yet.

“Here in Calgary is an absolute worldwide centre of excellence on kidney research so this money makes a huge difference, it’s going to change lives, there’s no question about that," said Van Deurzen.

Marchers consist of families and friends impacted by kidney disease, some who’ve received a kidney transplant, others waiting and many who’ve donated a kidney.

Doctors and nurses are also taking part.  Dr. Dan Muruve is a kidney specialist and is in his forth Kidney March.

“For the people who are affected it really takes a major toll on their lives, it’s really a long hard, at times very painful disease," said Muruve.

Cindi Chaisson watched her father struggle with kidney disease and two years ago, she donated one of her kidneys to him.  The transplant went well and she recommends others donate.

“You can’t use it once you’re gone, give it to someone else, as for kidneys you’ve got two, you can share, I shared mine and it actually went really well so I think that sharing is caring when it comes to that,” said Chaisson.

1 in 10 Canadians have kidney disease and each day 15 people learn their kidneys have failed. 

The money raised at Kidney March supports prevention, lifesaving research, patient programs, kidney kid's camp and organ donation initiatives. 

There is no cure for kidney disease, both dialysis and transplants are a form of life support, which is why supporting research is vital to the development of improved treatments and a cure. 

77 per cent of Canadians waiting for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney.  With an average wait time of over four years, many become too sick to receive a transplant or die waiting.

This year’s Kidney March wraps up on Sunday at Canada Olympic Park’s Markin MacPhail Centre.  

Visit kidneymarch.ca to donate or to be inspired.