12-year-old Philadelphia Boy Wins American Kidney Fund National Art Contest for Pediatric Kidney Patients


ROCKVILLE, Md. (October 15, 2021) – A young dialysis patient from Philadelphia has won the American Kidney Fund’s (AKF) 26th annual national Calendar Kids Art Contest. Twelve-year-old Sadallah Alhaj’s artwork will appear on the cover of AKF’s 2022 calendar, and he will be honored at AKF’s national gala, The Hope Affair, on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Sadallah was one of 13 pediatric kidney patient finalists vying to have their artwork appear on the calendar’s cover. Each child’s artwork was voted on by the public via AKF’s website, and thousands of people across the country cast their votes to help AKF choose the winner. Sadallah’s hopeful artwork, “Fishing for a Kidney,” features a smiling boy reeling in a kidney like a fish and invites us to “imagine if kidney fishing were a reality.” Sadallah was excited to showcase his artwork and compete in this year’s contest. “I feel so awesome and grateful,” he said. “I’m thankful for all my friends and family for voting for me. Winning the competition is a great achievement for me and I hope everyone achieves what they want.” He also encouraged other kids with kidney disease to stay hopeful.

AKF’s 2022 calendar featuring Sadallah’s winning artwork on the cover will be published in October and available for purchase on AKF’s website, KidneyFund.org. Sadallah will be recognized during The Hope Affair, taking place virtually again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To register for The Hope Affair, visit thehopeaffair2021.org. The event takes place Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. and is open to all.

“Sadallah’s drawing is heartwarming and serves as an important reminder that more than 90,000 people in this country are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. At AKF, we are fully committed to Sadallah’s dream of getting a kidney for everyone who needs one,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. “We are so grateful to all the children who submitted their artwork for this year’s contest, especially in light of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be very stressful for children, who face the double burden of navigating these difficult times with a chronic illness. We congratulate Sadallah on winning the Calendar Kids Art Contest and thank all of our calendar artists for being a source of inspiration.”

Dozens of children and teens with kidney disease from across the United States submitted their artwork for this annual contest. Each of the finalists will receive a canvas-wrapped print of their artwork, along with a gift card.

Other young kidney patients whose artwork will appear in AKF’s 2022 calendar include:

  • Abdoulaye Diakite from Silverthorne, Colo. – “Willem Kolff Portrait”
  • Addy Gilliland from Thorsby, Ala. – “Growth”
  • Ana Alvarez Estrada from Hamilton, N.J. – “A World Full of Heroes”
  • Corah Hanlon-Gamet from Portland, Ore. – “Best Kidney Birthday!”
  • Emily Lintz from Baltimore – “Beauty in Life”
  • Irma Castillo from Perry, Iowa – “Big Flower”
  • Jacob Hanna from Overland Park, Kan.– “Kidneys Have Heart”
  • Jadyn Garcia from Corpus Christi, Texas – “Special Delivery”
  • Lexi Morris from Cresaptown, Md. – “Thee Kidney”
  • Madeleine Barrett from Foxfield, Colo. – “12 Chinese zodiac signs”
  • Nashaya L-Coates from Philadelphia – “Just a Normal Girl”
  • Samantha Miller from Canton, Ohio – “Dog Dialysis”

AKF also awarded honorable mentions to sisters Chesley and Jaina Cormack from North Ridgeville, Ohio, who submitted videos of solo musical performances on the violin and piano.

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.

About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading independent nonprofit working on behalf of the 37 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 the nation’s low-income dialysis and transplant patients to access lifesaving medical care. 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 FacebookTwitter and Instagram.