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Media Contact:
Tenee Hawkins
Senior Director of Communications and Marketing

For Immediate Release

American Kidney Fund, Laila Ali and Congressional Leaders Advocate for Kidney Awareness on Capitol Hill on March 1st with Kidney Action Day

To Kick Off National Kidney Month, American Kidney Fund, Celebrity Spokesperson Laila Ali, Patient-Advocates and Legislators Raise Awareness During Third Annual Capitol Hill Event and Free Health Screening

WASHINGTON (March 1, 2012) — Today, the American Kidney Fund, along with celebrity health champion Laila Ali, joined with Congressional leaders and patient-advocates in its third annual Kidney Action Day on Capitol Hill, to raise awareness of kidney disease. March 1st marks the beginning of National Kidney Month and the Capitol Hill event kicked off a series of awareness events the American Kidney Fund has scheduled for the month as part of its national campaign, Pair Up: Join the Fight to Prevent Kidney Disease. 

The day’s events encouraged education about the preventable nature of kidney disease, which affects 31 million Americans.  The event, which was free and open to the public and Hill staffers, included health screenings that checked for indicators of kidney and heart health, diabetes and other important health measures. The event also included Wii fitness activities. Event video footage and photos are available at  

“Today’s Kidney Action Day was a tremendous success and we were so pleased that Congressional leaders came together to send a message to the American public by Pairing Up with the American Kidney Fund to fight kidney disease,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. “Raising awareness about this severe chronic condition is a critical step toward reducing the numbers of Americans affected by this deadly disease.”

The event was well-attended by policymakers, with the co-chairs of the Congressional Kidney Caucus, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), speaking about kidney disease. Additional speakers included Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Rep. Donna Christensen (D-VI). Other participating Members of Congress included Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), and Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL). Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, Director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), also spoke at the event.

“For more than 40 years the American Kidney Fund has done a remarkable job of creating public awareness of kidney disease. I applaud AKF for raising people’s understanding of this common and preventable disease,” said Rep. Fleming (R-LA). “As a doctor, I know that a healthy lifestyle and a knowledge of the risk factors help prevent the onset of kidney disease, and that’s why I’m very grateful for the work of the American Kidney Fund.”

As part of Kidney Action Day, 10 American Kidney Fund patient-advocates were chosen from more than 500 members of the American Kidney Fund’s Advocacy Network to participate in the event. The patient-advocates from across the country met with their Senators and Representatives to introduce them to the American Kidney Fund’s Pair Up campaign, which was launched in September 2011 to encourage Americans to learn if they are at risk for kidney disease, and spread the word to friends or loved ones who also may be at risk. You can learn more at

National Kidney Month provides an opportunity for the American Kidney Fund and partner organizations to focus on raising awareness and educating the public on prevention. Kidney disease is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Most often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure, kidney disease can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and death. Nine out of 10 people with early kidney disease don’t know they have it because kidney disease has few warning signs in the early stages. Throughout the month, the American Kidney Fund will hold screenings and events in several cities across the country.

For more information about the American Kidney Fund, visit


About the American Kidney Fund

The mission of the American Kidney Fund is to fight kidney disease through direct financial support to patients in need; health education; and prevention efforts. The American Kidney Fund leads the nation in providing charitable assistance to dialysis patients who need help with the costs associated with treating kidney failure. Last year, nearly 90,000 people—almost 1 out of every 4 dialysis patients in the United States—received assistance from the American Kidney Fund for health insurance premiums and other treatment-related expenses. Millions of people nationwide benefit annually from the American Kidney Fund’s efforts to fight kidney disease through health education and prevention efforts. The American Kidney Fund’s national campaign, Pair Up: Join the Fight to Prevent Kidney Disease, empowers women to protect themselves—and the people they love—from kidney disease. The American Kidney Fund offers free kidney health screenings in communities nationwide, as well as extensive online health education materials and courses and a toll-free health information HelpLine (866.300.2900).

As a 10-time recipient of the top “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator, the American Kidney Fund is ranked among the top 1 percent of charities nationwide for fiscal accountability. In addition, the American Kidney Fund holds an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy; adheres to the National Health Council Standards of Excellence; and is a member of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. For more information, visit

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