Press release

American Kidney Fund Hosts 15th Annual Gala, The Hope Affair, to Honor Kidney Community Members

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) will hold the national kidney community gala, The Hope Affair, at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. This year marks AKF's 15th annual gala, bringing together patients, advocates, caregivers, health professionals and innovators.

ROCKVILLE, Md.(Oct. 17, 2023) — Tomorrow, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) will hold the national kidney community gala, The Hope Affair, at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. This year marks AKF's 15th annual gala, bringing together patients, advocates, caregivers, health professionals and innovators. The event will honor kidney community members and celebrate their courage, dedication and passion for supporting kidney patients, improving kidney care and building a world without kidney disease.

Emceed by Emmy Award-winning news anchor Shawn Yancy, The Hope Affair will recognize the following honorees, who have played a pivotal role in helping AKF fight kidney disease on all fronts.

John R. Brandon Bayton is the recipient of the 2023 AKF Hero of Hope Award. Among the most prestigious annual awards in the kidney community, the Hero of Hope award is given to an individual living with kidney disease and making a difference in their community. Bayton was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2004 and has undergone two kidney transplants. He is a passionate advocate for the kidney community and educates others about kidney disease and the importance of kidney health through his service on several committees. Bayton became an AKF Ambassador in 2019 and has advocated for improved kidney policies on Capitol Hill and has been featured at several AKF events, speaking about living with kidney failure. 
Hannah Ehrlich is a 12-year-old girl from Olathe, Kansas and is the 2024 AKF Calendar Kids Cover Artist. Hannah is living with stage 3 chronic kidney disease and applied to the Calendar Kids Art Contest because she wanted to share her colorful design with other kids and families in the kidney community. Her artwork, Kidney Disease Awareness, features a kidney filled with different patterns and colors, surrounded by hashtags related to kidney disease and kidney disease awareness ribbons.

"It is a pleasure for AKF to host our annual gala in downtown DC and gather with remarkable kidney community members who are making a positive difference in the fight against kidney disease," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO. "Tonight, we celebrate the unyielding commitment of advocates like John, who work tirelessly to improve the wellbeing and care of people with kidney disease, as well as children like Hannah, who are resilient and continue to spread joy even as they face difficult diagnoses. The kidney community is nothing short of inspiring and as we continue to work together, we will get closer to AKF's vision of a world without kidney disease."

Proceeds raised through The Hope Affair will support AKF's prevention, early detection, financial support, disease management, clinical research, innovation and advocacy programs.

"Akebia is honored to once again play a part in the wonderful celebration of the kidney community that is The Hope Affair, especially on its 15th anniversary," said John P. Butler, president and CEO of Akebia Therapeutics, the evening's Platinum Sponsor. "We look forward to paying tribute to the extraordinary people in the kidney community who work tirelessly to support the millions affected by kidney disease."

Individuals who wish to attend or contribute to the event may do so on AKF's website.

The Hope Affair 2023 is made possible thanks to generous lead support from Akebia Therapeutics and many other corporate and individual sponsors. A full sponsor listing can be found at TheHopeAffair.org.

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million 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. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.

For more information, please visit KidneyFund.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.