The 38th Annual “Gift of Life” Gala occurred on October 21, 2023, at the Hilton Chicago. This charity event raised $250,300 for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI). The funds will support critical initiatives that improve the health and well-being of those at risk for or affected by kidney disease. It will also eliminate demographic health disparities to help thousands of Illinois families lead healthier, happier lives.
At the event, NKFI honored two recipients for their contributions to the world of kidney disease, prevention, transplantation, and organ donation. Dr. Joaquin Brieva and Jennifer Sutton Brieva were presented with the “Gift of Life” Award for their advocacy, philanthropy, and inspiring donor journey. Dr. Brieva, a Professor of Dermatology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, learned the horrible news his kidney function was declining and he would need a kidney transplant to prevent total kidney failure. This is when Dr. Brieva and his wife, Jennifer, leaped into action. They worked to create awareness about Dr. Brieva’s need for a kidney among friends and family, as well as the need for more living donors for others in need of kidney transplants. Over two years, they raised $40,000 at the Walk for Kidneys for NKFI. Through their efforts to raise funds, a generous organ donor stepped forward to give Dr. Brieva the true “Gift of Life” with a life-saving kidney transplant.
The Nephrology Associates of Northern Illinois and Indiana (NANI) will receive the Corporate Partner Award for their dedication towards kidney care to the patients, families, and communities they serve. Jacqueline Burgess-Bishop, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer of NKFI, shares in a press release from NKFI, “We’re grateful for their dedication and commitment to raising awareness around kidney health. The Brievas and NANI are educating, inspiring, and supporting countless members within their communities and providing others with a second chance at life.”
The emcee for the evening was NBC Channel 5’s Regina Waldroup, a longtime public supporter of organ donation. This was her third year in a row hosting the event. She also shared her story about being diagnosed with a common genetic disorder called polycystic kidney disease. Her heartfelt story connected with attendees while creating awareness for NKFI.
The mission of NKFI is prevention, education, and awareness. Through prevention, NKFI can identify the risk factors, which include high blood pressure and diabetes. This knowledge can help stop or slow the progression of kidney disease. Education is an essential factor in managing kidney disease through exercise and good nutrition. Awareness lets others know that the kidney is a meaningful “Gift of Life.”
For more information about NKFI or to donate, visit nkfi.org