WASHINGTON, D.C.–The National Kidney Foundation Serving the National Capital Area held its 29th Annual Kidney Ball on Nov. 21 at the Hilton Washington. Nearly 1,200 of the Washington, D.C. area’s business, government, and community leaders, as well as kidney patients and their families, attended the gala.
Raising as much as 1.1 million of dollars in an economy in recession is quite an achievement. William Couper, President Mid-Atlantic Bank of America and Chair of this year’s event explained: “We have a lot of people who helped reach out to corporations and individuals. Kidney disease is very prevalent in Washington, D.C. area, so it’s not too hard to make it a case to get people’s support.”
The Washington, D.C. area has the highest prevalence of kidney disease in the nation, with more than 700,000 people affected, nearly 6,000 on dialysis, and more than 1,600 waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant. Nationwide, more than 26 million Americans, 13 percent of the adult population, live with kidney and urinary tract diseases and annually, more than 70,000 people die from these diseases.
Many of the activists themselves have personal experiences with kidney disease. One of them is Ron Paul, President of Ronald D. Paul Companies, Inc. and Chairman of Eagle Bank. He is a two-time kidney recipient, with the first time being when his daughters were only 4 and 7. With such personal experiences, Paul knows how important the Foundation’s cause is.
“The waiting list for organ transplants now exceeds 100,000 names. The reality is that if donors do not step up, or are not found, thousands will not survive the wait. It has been and continues to be totally unacceptable,” Paul said. He received the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award for his two decades of service to the National Kidney Foundation.
The Kidney Ball is among the largest one-day fundraisers for the National Kidney Foundation nationwide, and has evolved into one of DC’s premiere galas. By live and silent auction, this year’s event sold hundreds of auction items, including puppies, cars, fine arts, travel packages, entertainment tickets, jewelry, accessories, and apparel. The Foundation also benefited from the sale of tickets from the dinner guests for 108 tables. The proceeds will be used to support medical research, early detection screenings, patient and community services, professional education, and organ donation awareness in the Washington, D.C. region.
The Foundation’s efforts have proved to have had a positive impact. Since 1999, the Foundation has screened nearly 20,000 people at risk for kidney disease and its leading causes, diabetes and hypertension, according to Couper. Through its early detection initiatives – Project Prevention, Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP), and kidney risk assessments – the Foundation has found that 90 percent of those screened had at least one abnormal test result, validating the importance of these initiatives.
“Many forms of kidney disease do not produce symptoms until the later stages. However, there are warning signs that people must be aware of, in order to prevent, and treat the disease as early as possible,” says the Foundation’s 2008 annual report.
“If kidney disease is detected in stages 1-3, progression to the end-stage kidney disease (stage 5) can be delayed or prevented. Unfortunately, at stage 5, the only option for survival is dialysis or a kidney transplant.”
Carleton Jones, President of INDUS Corporation, one of the vice chairs for this year’s Kidney Ball, will serve as the chair for next year’s event. Speaking of next year’s goal for the amount of funding, Jones says, “We’d love to at least match this year’s.” He hopes that with the expectedly improved economy, next year’s fundraising job will be easier than this year’s.