Press release

Nine-Year-Old Iowa Girl Wins American Kidney Fund National Calendar Kids Art Contest for Pediatric Kidney Patients

Emme Oberbreckling of Mechanicsville will be the cover artist for 2020 AKF calendar

Rockville, Md. (August 7, 2019) – A young kidney patient from Mechanicsville, Iowa, has won the American Kidney Fund's (AKF) annual National Calendar Kids Art Contest. Emme Oberbreckling's artwork will appear on the cover of AKF's 2020 calendar, and she will be a special guest at AKF's national gala in Washington, D.C., later this year.


Emme was one of 13 pediatric kidney patient finalists vying to become the next calendar cover artist. Each child's artwork was posted to AKF's website to be voted on by the public. Thousands of people across the country cast their votes for the winner, and Emme's colorful painting, "Transplant Love," received over 30% of the vote total. She completed her painting in an art therapy session on her last day in the hospital following a successful kidney transplant.

"I feel really happy," Emme said. "I'm excited that other kids with kidney disease will be able to see my painting and maybe be inspired by it."

"We are glad to be part of this contest and very grateful and humbled that our daughter's artwork was chosen," said Marcy Oberbreckling, Emme's mother. "Art was her favorite thing to do during dialysis and she became very close to her art therapist, Kamila."

Emme's father, Andrew, donated his kidney to Emme. The name of her painting is a reference to the love her family has shown her throughout the kidney transplant process.

AKF's 2020 calendar featuring Emme's winning artwork on the cover will be published in October and available for purchase on AKF's website, Emme will be recognized during AKF's annual gala, The Hope Affair, on Oct. 2 in Washington.

"Emme's painting is symbolic of the strength and positivity with which she takes on her fight against kidney disease," said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. "We are grateful to all the young artists who submitted their work and we congratulate Emme on receiving the most votes. We look forward to welcoming her at the The Hope Affair this fall."

Over 60 children and teens with kidney disease from across the United States submitted their artwork for this popular annual contest, now in its 24th year. This was the first year AKF opened entries to non-visual forms of art, including poetry. Poems by two finalists will also appear in the 2020 calendar. 

Other young kidney patients whose artwork will appear in AKF's 2020 calendar include:

  • Jazmin Almanza from Corona, California – "Hope"
  • Kelsey Luna from Redondo Beach, California – "A day of Kidney fun and love"
  • Anna Alvarez from Trenton, New Jersey – "Spirit Wolf"
  • Lisbeth Hidalgo from Philadelphia – "Music is Medicine"
  • Marjory Zapzalka from Little Falls, Minnesota – "Rockin' On"
  • Cidney Player from Baltimore – "Peaceful Sunset"
  • Willow Job from Cockeysville, Maryland – "2 Kidneys is better than 1"
  • Ellanie Weston from Spanish Fork, Utah – "Kidney Friends"
  • Naomi Reyes from Houston – "You Taught Me"
  • Briley Reed from Cass, West Virginia – "Rainbow Kidney Tree"
  • Chloe Morton from Norfolk, Virginia – "Insight"
  • Brianna Hillin from Georgetown, Texas – "Bacterial Flora"

AKF's Calendar Kids Art Contest provides an opportunity for pediatric kidney patients to express themselves through artwork and to receive national recognition while increasing awareness of kidney disease throughout the United States. The contest is supported in part by a generous gift from the Robert I. Schattner Foundation.

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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