Press release

12th Annual American Kidney Fund Gala, The Hope Affair, Goes Virtual to Shine a Spotlight on Kidney Heroes

ROCKVILLE, Md. (Oct. 5, 2020) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) will host its 12th annual gala, The Hope Affair, on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 7 pm ET as a virtual program — bringing together patients, families, caregivers and the renal community in the only national event of its kind. The Hope Affair celebrates the inspirational individuals who fight kidney disease every day as well as the caregivers and health professionals who sacrifice daily to take care of them.

This special online event is free and open to all who wish to attend; advance registration is required at

With the theme "Shining a Spotlight," the event will highlight how the renal community has come together to support kidney patients during COVID-19 and will spotlight extraordinary patients and caregivers. The Hope Affair will be emceed by Emmy Award-winning news anchor Shawn Yancy and will honor:

  • William (Bill) Lawson III, a legendary high school basketball coach, athletic director and kidney transplant recipient from Petersburg, Virginia, will be honored as AKF's 2020 Hero of Hope — the highest national honor given to a kidney patient. Lawson developed kidney failure unexpectedly, and after nine years on dialysis, he received a kidney transplant made possible with help from AKF's Health Insurance Premium Program. After attending AKF's gala in 2018, Lawson was inspired to help others with kidney disease and planned an all-star alumni basketball tournament to raise funds for AKF. He continues to advocate for kidney disease prevention by educating his students on the importance of going to the doctor for regular check-ups.
  • Khloe Sudol, a 10-year-old kidney patient from Woodbine, New Jersey, will be recognized as AKF's Calendar Kids Cover Artist. Diagnosed with a rare genetic disease that causes kidney failure, Khloe is currently receiving at-home dialysis as she waits for a kidney transplant. Khloe admires the beauty found in nature, especially flowers because while they're all different, they're still beautiful in their own way. Her painting "Kidneys & Flowers" includes a poignant message alluding to the shortage of donor organs: "If only kidneys could grow like flowers." Her artwork is featured on the cover of AKF's 2021 calendar.
  • Health care workers and medical teams serving kidney patients across the country will be honored. During the gala, AKF will encourage the use of #AKFHERO on social media to celebrate everyone's health care heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic has introduced heightened risks and challenges to all kidney patients, who are at high risk for COVID-19. Coming together for The Hope Affair 2020 in one voice is important now more than ever as we support patients and advance programs for the 37 million people living with kidney disease in our country," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "We're proud to be able to virtually bring together thousands of people from across the country to honor inspirational individuals who exemplify the resilience and determination required to live and thrive with kidney disease.

All proceeds raised through The Hope Affair will support AKF's prevention, early detection, financial support, disease management, clinical research, innovation and advocacy programs. Funds raised through text-to-give during the event will directly go to AKF's Coronavirus Emergency Fund to provide critically needed financial assistance to low-income U.S. dialysis and transplant patients who are facing unexpected expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 100% of all funds raised for the Coronavirus Emergency Fund will go directly to patients in need.

The Hope Affair 2020 is made possible thanks to generous lead support from Diamond Sponsor Akebia Therapeutics and Gold Sponsor Amgen, along with many other corporate and individual supporters. A full sponsor listing can be found at

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nonprofit with the greatest direct impact on people with kidney disease. AKF works on behalf of 1 in 7 Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. AKF fights for kidney health for all through programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy. AKF is one of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 21 consecutive years and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly known as GuideStar. 

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