Merrittonians gathered in full force at Monck Provincial Park this Sunday, despite Mother Nature, to support a local teen diagnosed with a life-altering kidney disease.

Despite the inclement weather, close to 50 locals gathered to walk the planned route in Monck Provincial Park, an unofficial walk put on by the Ouimet family, whose young daughter Marissa was diagnosed with ANCA Vasculitis, a rare autoimmune disease that can lead to kidney complications.

Marissa’s kidney’s were deemed to be failing, and she was placed on hemodialysis, a process which filters wastes and water from the blood, completing the treatment as she waits for a kidney transplant. The treatment is only available in Vancouver for all of BC and the Yukon’s health regions, meaning Marissa and her parents, Marcus and Heather, required constant travel to and accommodations in Vancouver and area.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada provides support to lessen the financial and emotional impacts of these treatments, and the Ouimets organized their walk in an effort to give back.

Kidney Walk Photos by Marius Auer

“It’s great, even in the rain we’re seeing people come out,” said Marcus Ouimet. “A lot of people are coming from out of town.”

The Ouimet’s, their walking team ‘I Just Want Water,’ and community supporters have raised over $7000 total, through online donations, family, and
funds raised by Merritt Secondary School students and staff.

“All the money we’ve raised goes to the Kidney Foundation, and supports research, kidney camps, and housing for those who need transplants. The Kidney Foundation said if the turnout is good, they’ll actually support Merritt to do an official walk, because we did this mostly on our own as a virtual walk.”

For more information, or to donate, visit