Thousands flood Detroit Zoo in kidney walk

Thousands of Metro Detroiters came out on Sunday to raise awareness at the kidney walk at the Detroit Zoo.

The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan expected to bring about 8,000 walkers together to raise money for research and awareness about kidney health.

This year's kidney walk just might surpass New York as the biggest in the country -- seeking to raise $600,000.

"I am five years out with my kidney transplant," said Melody, a kidney transplant recipient. "The National Kidney Foundation has been faithful and wonderful to me, so I'm trying to be faithful and wonderful to them by getting everyone I can to help me raise money to support The National Kidney Foundation to get the word out and help other people and other families to be as blessed as I am."

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease, and 70 percent of kidney diseases can be prevented.

So many of the walkers had their own stories to tell.

"I got a niece and a nephew -- both have kidney issues and we're here to help support them," said walker Patrick Ryan.

Melanie works in necrology at Henry Ford Hospital.

"My best friend died of kidney cancer a few years ago so it's near and dear in more than one way," she said.

Brenda Davis is a kidney donor.

"I donated to my nephew Johnathon, who's now 20 years old," she said.

All of these people people attended the event for all of these reasons, and many more.

"We have 900,000 Michiganders suffering from chronic kidney disease and so the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is dedicated to ensuring that we have proper resources for treatment and working on resources to help with a cure," said Wright Lassiter III, president of the Henry Ford Health System.

Until then, there are treatments but they're far from ideal.

"My god it's a hard thing -- I would never wish this on my worst enemy," said Yolanda Renee Smith.

She's has been on dialysis for 20 years -- her shirt says it all and she needs a kidney.

"You can't use those organs when you die, so become donors to people can live and have a second chance at life," Smith said.

FOX 2's own Rich Luterman emceed, getting the crowd fired up.

"We're fighting kidney disease," he said.

And that really is something to get excited about.

"My passion has become raising awareness for kidney disease and for living donation," Davis said.