Press release

American Kidney Fund Teams Up with Olympic Champion Suni Lee to Help Educate and Empower People to Know the Cause of Their Kidney Disease

Suni Lee and AKF partner on AKF's Know Your Kidneys initiative

ROCKVILLE, Md. (July 9, 2024) – Reigning Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Suni Lee and the American Kidney Fund (AKF) announced today they are partnering for AKF's Know Your Kidneys initiative, a comprehensive program that provides a roadmap to better kidney health. Lee, who just clinched a spot on the U.S. gymnastics team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, will share her kidney disease experience, shed light on unknown causes of kidney disease and share resources that can help those seeking a diagnosis.

Lee won gold in the individual all-around event as well as a silver team medal and bronze medal in the women's uneven bars at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She disclosed in 2023 that she had been diagnosed with kidney disease of an unknown origin. As a result, she took a break in competition to focus on her health, but was later cleared by her health care team to return to competition, and has received widespread accolades for her comeback. She was named to the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team at the Olympic Trials in her hometown state of Minnesota on June 30. 

"We are excited to work with Suni, who is an inspiration to so many, especially young people. She has demonstrated grace and resilience in the face of a life-altering diagnosis," said AKF President and CEO LaVarne A. Burton. "Suni is not alone — 1 in 7 Americans live with kidney disease, and she's also a part of a smaller group of people living with rare kidney diseases. With Suni using her platform to encourage people to know their kidneys, know their cause, and know their plan, we can make an even stronger impact. Increasing awareness about the impact kidney disease has on people of all ages — and encouraging people with kidney disease to continue pursuing their dreams — is a goal that Suni and the American Kidney Fund have in common."  

"Getting diagnosed with kidney disease turned the world that I knew upside-down. At the time of my diagnosis, I was 20 years old, competing in a sport that I love so much," Lee said. "My kidney disease has been difficult, and I know firsthand that sometimes the cause of your disease isn't clear-cut. But I want to encourage others to be informed about their kidney health and become a self-advocate for a treatment plan that can allow them to live their best life. I'm thrilled to work with the American Kidney Fund and I'm looking forward to getting started."

Up to 15% of people with kidney disease do not know the cause of their disease. AKF's Know Your Kidneys program is designed to be a customized experience for people at risk for kidney disease and those living with it, providing comprehensive, interactive resources to support them through their entire kidney disease journey. The Know Your Cause pathway offers information about testing options, genetic counseling and clinical trials, as well as an interactive tool to guide patients on how to speak with their doctor about identifying the cause of their kidney disease, which is critical to ensure the most effective treatment plan. 

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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