Thirtieth Annual Gift of Life Gala Commemorates Three Decades of Kidney Health Advancements

October 15, 2015

Picture this: it’s 1985. A gallon of gas is $1.09. Microsoft releases the first version of Windows. Mike Ditka leads the Chicago Bears to a record-breaking football season that concludes with a win at Super Bowl XX and the unforgettable Super Bowl Shuffle. Coca-Cola unveils and subsequently withdraws New Coke. Elmo makes his Sesame Street debut. And the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ Gift of Life Gala is born.

As we embark upon the 30th Annual Gift of Life Gala on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Field Museum of Natural History, we look back over the last three decades and celebrate the incredible advancements made since 1985 in the fields of kidney disease and transplantation. Cheryl Scott, ABC 7 meteorologist and emcee for the evening, will help to commemorate the ultimate gift of life and the progress made by physicians, researchers, advocates, and our community as a whole.

Top sponsors of this year’s Gala include Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, the 30th Anniversary Presenting Sponsor, and Chicago philanthropists Joan & Paul Rubschlager, a Platinum Sponsor. Both are strong supporters and advocates of the fight against kidney disease.

Gift of Hope, the organ procurement organization (OPO) that serves Illinois and northwest Indiana, is also the recipient of this year’s Gift of Life Award. This award is given annually to recognize individuals and organizations that have made a difference in the world of kidney disease, prevention, transplantation and organ donation, and therefore have advanced the success of the NKFI.

Gift of Hope is entrusted by the nation's healthcare system with coordinating organ and tissue donation while providing donor family services and public education. In short: it works to save and enhance the lives of as many people as possible through organ and tissue donation.

In 2014, Gift of Hope placed 1,024 lifesaving organs with recipients, and this year the organization is on track to place 1,100 organs. Almost half of these (about 500) will be kidneys.

"The most important thing we’ve done is increased donations," says Kevin Cmunt, Gift of Hope President/CEO. "Our organ donation numbers are up by 40 percent in the last two and a half years. We’re transplanting 1,100 organs from our baseline of 800 back in 2012."

In addition to the award presentation and program, the evening will include a cocktail reception, silent auction, gourmet dinner, dancing and live music provided by R&B band Chicago Catz. Proceeds raised will go directly to support the crucial programs and services provided by the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois.

Tickets to the Gift of Life Gala are $500 per person, while table sponsorships are available at various levels ranging from $6,000 to $20,000. For more information, to purchase a ticket or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please visit or contact Petra Seitz at or (312) 321-1500.

About the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois
The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois improves the health and well-being of people at risk for and affected by kidney disease through prevention, education and empowerment.