LUMBERTON — A Kidney Walk is planned for Saturday at Luther Britt Park in Lumberton from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. for firefighter Gene Martin, who is in Stage 5 kidney failure. The park is located at 671 Branch St., Lumberton.
Samantha Failen, who is Martin’s sister, is organizing the event to help raise money to defray the medical expenses Martin has incurred. The walk will make two laps around the lake at the park and the starting and finishing lines are on the I-95 side of the park.
Failen said her brother is planning to attend the event.
“Gene has been a firefighter and a rescue personnel member for 50 years,” said Failen. “He’s been diabetic since I was a teenager. He is not the type to let anything slow him down.”
Failen said while Martin no longer goes into burning buildings, he still goes on the fire calls.
Martin is also a member of the Bladen County Honor Guard, Bladen County Firefighter’s Association, and the N.C. Fallen Firefighter’s Association. According to an Eventbrite website set up by Failen, Martin also served in the Army National Guard until his health forced him to resign.
He has also served as a Sunday school superintendent at his church as well as serving as a disc jockey at 1440 The Branch radio station, which plays gospel music.
Failen related that the family also lost a sister to kidney disease several years ago, thereby disqualifying her as a potential donor. She explained that with the prevalence of kidney disease in her family, the doctors indicated her own chances of developing kidney disease herself are strong.
“My way of trying to help my brother is putting this together,” said Failen.
She said initially, organizers were asking folks to sign up online at Facebook, but everyone is welcomed to attend.
Failen said in addition to the Kidney Walk, there will be fun and activities at Luther Britt Park all day long. Beginning at noon, the Elder Rock Music Management group will provide entertainment with three artists — Avery Hunt, who performs country music and gospel; Backwoods Music Society, which plays a variety of rock-n-roll and blues; and Michael Daughtry, who plays a variety of music including his own original work.
There will also be displays of fire trucks, Lumberton’s crash truck and an ambulance will be on display. There will also be a smoke house for the children.
Failen said she is planning a second Kidney Walk, this time in support of the National Kidney Foundation on March 28, 2015. She said there currently is no walk for the National Kidney Foundation in the local area and she wanted to establish one here.