10th Annual American Kidney Fund Gala, The Hope Affair, Honors Inspirational Individuals, Spotlights Transformative Power of Kidney Transplants


ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 2, 2018 – The American Kidney Fund (AKF) will host its 10th annual gala, The Hope Affair, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The Hope Affair brings together patients, members of the kidney care community, advocates and policymakers to celebrate inspirational individuals whose lives have been impacted by kidney disease.

With a theme of “Empower-Fight-Honor,” the event will highlight the transformative power of kidney transplants and AKF’s lifesaving programs which have helped hundreds of dialysis patients across the country receive transplants so far this year. The Hope Affair will be emceed by Emmy Award-winning FOX 5 news anchor Shawn Yancy and will honor:

  • Ronald Krokey, a kidney transplant recipient from Woodstock, Georgia. A dialysis patient for more than 16 years before his transplant, Krokey is a passionate advocate for patients as part of his regional ESRD Network and a member of AKF’s Advocacy Network. He has helped patients overcome feelings of powerlessness and depression by writing them inspirational letters, and has provided training in his former clinic on physical fitness and preventing infections. Krokey, an AKF grant recipient who credits AKF’s help in keeping him insured so he could get get his transplant, will receive the 2018 American Kidney Fund Hero of Hope award, one of the highest honors given to a kidney patient in the United States.
  • Juan Calle, an Atlanta restaurateur and entrepreneur who lost his sister Laura to kidney disease in 2017. Calle is honoring her memory by competing in IRONMAN triathlons to fundraise for AKF. He will receive the 2018 American Kidney Fund KidneyNation Excellence Award for raising awareness of kidney disease and the need for kidney donors in his community and raising over $38,000 to support AKF programs and services in Laura’s memory. 
  • De’Nahri Middleton, a 7-year-old from Jackson, Mississippi, who was born with a serious kidney condition and had a kidney removed when he was just five months old. Middleton’s drawing of a superhero named “Kidney Man” won the most votes in an online contest to select the cover art for AKF’s 2019 calendar.

Special guests to be recognized at the event include Kenneth Walker and Charles Ball, 1969 graduates from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., whose improbable story of a living kidney donation began with an email plea. The story of Walker and Ball—virtual strangers who barely knew one another in high school—will be told by their transplant surgeon, Dr. Keith Melancon of George Washington University Hospital.

“As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Hope Affair, we once again pay tribute to some exceptional individuals who are changing people’s lives through their courage and selflessness in the fight against kidney disease,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. “Their inspirational stories are a fitting backdrop for an evening that is all about empowering people with knowledge, fighting kidney disease on every front, and honoring the strength, courage and heroic effort it takes to live with kidney disease every day.”

“AKF gives real hope to people living with kidney disease and kidney failure,” said Robert M. Tarola, chair of AKF’s board of trustees and a transplant recipient who received a kidney from his brother 36 years ago. “In addition to all AKF does in education, prevention, advocacy and clinical research, our financial assistance programs help make it possible for many patients to afford treatment, including kidney transplants--something that would be financially impossible for them without AKF’s help.”

All proceeds raised through The Hope Affair will support the programs and services of the American Kidney Fund, the nation’s largest nonprofit serving people with and at risk for kidney disease. Kidney disease affects 30 million Americans, with many millions more at risk. In 2017, the American Kidney Fund provided treatment-related financial assistance to more than 93,000 U.S. dialysis and transplant patients, and provided free kidney health screenings to 12,000 at-risk people in 25 cities nationwide.

“We are so grateful to the generous sponsors whose support funds our education, prevention and financial assistance efforts,” Burton said. “We are proud to spend 97 cents of every donated dollar on patients and programs.”

The Hope Affair 2018 is made possible thanks to generous lead support from Gold Sponsor American Renal Associates and Silver Sponsor Satellite Healthcare, and many other corporate sponsors. A full sponsor listing can be found at TheHopeAffair.org.

About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation’s charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its “top 10” list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar, and GuideStar, which has awarded AKF its Platinum Seal of Transparency.

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