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Stepping into Christmas is the perfect opportunity for Joanne to catch up with friends

16 December 2020

Discovering new walks around the Chester area and catching up with friends has made the Step into Christmas challenge a perfect fundraising opportunity for Joanne O’Brien.  

The minute she announced plans to walk 12,000 steps a day for 12 days with her French Bassett hound, Woody, to raise money for Kidney Research UK, friends pledged to walk alongside her to keep her company. 

“It’s turned into a lovely opportunity to catch up with people in a way that feels safe as we are out in the countryside enjoying fresh air while socially distancing,” said Joanne, who is waiting to hear if her brother is a successful kidney donor match. 

“Since Covid I haven’t been going to the pub, playing tennis or catching up with people, so this has felt like a real treat.” 

Among some of the beautiful walks she has been enjoying are the Halkyn Mountain in North Wales and discovering new paths around the peaceful trails of Delamere Forest. 

Joanne O'Brien
Joanne O'Brien with Woody

Discovering beautiful walks 

I’m getting to see parts of the local area and trails that I wouldn’t normally go to which has been great. Maybe I should Step into Christmas all year!” 

So far eight-year-old Woody is keeping up with the walking challenge which takes around two hours a day compared to his usual daily dog walks of about an hour. 

Joanne was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 38 when her kidney function was found to be around 30 per cent. 

Now 58, Joanne has managed her condition with a healthy diet and exercise, but in recent months tests have shown her kidney function is down to around 15 to 17 per cent. 

I’m on the cusp of needing a transplant. My brother has offered to donate and although a blood group match, he needs the final tests to check he is compatible. 

“Kidney disease was never really part of my life until the last year. I pushed it to the back of my mindCovid made me feel vulnerable and now I know I need a transplant it has come more to the front of my thoughts. 

On the outside I look fine

“Kidney disease never really stopped me doing things, but now I’ve become wary of my health condition. 

From the outside I look fine. Nobody would know I have anything wrong with me. I think that makes kidney disease quite hard for people to understand. 

Joanne is already making great strides by raising more than £1,300 which she hopes will fund research and advances into treatment options. 

“When the kidneys decide they want to pack in theres nothing you can do to prevent it, which is why it’s important to support the science and research to make life better for kidney patients.” 

To support Joanne’s Step into Christmas challenge click here: 

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