Press release

American Kidney Fund's National Gala, The Hope Affair, Celebrates the Power of Community

The 14th annual event will pay tribute to the power and resilience of the kidney disease community

ROCKVILLE, Md.(Oct. 17, 2022) — For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) will host its 14th annual gala, The Hope Affair, in person this year. AKF is excited to bring the kidney community together on Oct. 19 to celebrate The Power of Community, the theme for this year's gala at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

Emceed by Emmy Award-winning news anchor Shawn Yancy, The Hope Affair will not only honor the inspirational individuals who fight kidney disease every day, it also will celebrate the courage, commitment and passion shown by advocates, patients, caregivers, health professionals and innovators who work daily to improve health outcomes.

This year, AKF is pleased to recognize the following honorees, who have been instrumental in helping the organization achieve its mission to fight kidney disease on all fronts:

  • Ellie Hanley, age 18, from Virginia, is the 2022 AKF Hero of Hope, given annually to an individual living with kidney disease and making a difference in their community. Hanley was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare kidney disease, when she was in sixth grade. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanley trained for a marathon and raised vital funds for the kidney community, turning 26.2 miles into more than $27,000 in donations – making a tremendous impact on behalf of people with kidney disease.
  • The 37 Mile Challenge Community is the recipient of the 2022 KidneyNation Excellence Award, given annually to someone who has gone above and beyond to raise funds for AKF. AKF is honoring the entire 37 Mile Challenge Community, many of whom are dialysis or recent transplant recipients who pushed themselves to walk or run 37 miles while raising money for AKF in tribute to the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease. Accepting the award at The Hope Affair will be Undrella Woody and Matthew Novelli, members of the 37 Mile Challenge Community.  
  • Anibal Yobani Lopez, a 12-year-old boy from Waterloo, Iowa, is the 2023 AKF Calendar Kids Cover Artist. Diagnosed before his 11th birthday with kidney failure, Yobani received a kidney transplant in March 2022. His artwork, From Kidneys with Love, features two kidneys with a Valentine's Day twist: one holding a heart and one dressed as Cupid.

"AKF is delighted to host The Hope Affair in person again, providing us with a chance to connect in-person with our supporters and patient community as we have not been able to do during the height of the pandemic," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO. "This event is an opportunity to celebrate the strength and dedication of people living with kidney disease, as highlighted by our honorees Ellie, Yobani and the entire 37 Mile Challenge Community. We know that we need the full power of our community to fulfill our 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.

"As longtime supporters of the American Kidney Fund, Akebia is honored to be a part of The Hope Affair 2022, an evening to pay tribute to the dedication of those in the kidney community," said John Butler, president and CEO of Akebia Therapeutics, the evening's Platinum Sponsor. "We look forward to celebrating the exceptional efforts made on behalf of each person impacted by kidney disease." 

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

The Hope Affair 2022 is made possible thanks to generous lead support from Platinum Sponsor Akebia Therapeutics, Silver Sponsors Amgen and Satellite Healthcare and 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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