Classic Chicago Magazine: Gift of Life Gala

By Judy Carmack Bross


Guests arriving for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) “Gift of Life Gala: Bridging The Gap Towards Kidney Health” came face to face with a reminder of the organization’s critical mission as they entered the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The bright orange KidneyMobile which travels the state was parked right out front.


NKFI CEO Jackie Burgess-Bishop, Joan Rubschlager, Paul Rubschlager

NKFI CEO Jackie Burgess-Bishop told us of the importance of having the life-saving vehicle at the 36th Annual “Gift of Life Gala” which attracted 200 guests and raised $200,000.


“Our mission at NKFI is to improve the health and well-being of people at risk for or affected by kidney disease through prevention, education and empowerment. One of our key outreach and screening programs for prevention and early detection of kidney disease is our KidneyMobile. We travel throughout the state providing comprehensive screenings in vulnerable communities. The Illinois Department of Public Health provides funding support for the KidneyMobile. Therefore, we wanted to acknowledge our partnership and felt that it was important for our Gala attendees to see a visual representation of some of the important work that we do in Illinois.”


Mistress of Ceremonies Regina Waldroup with IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike MD

Chicago’s NBC5 Investigative Reporter Regina Waldroup hosted the program. NKFI presented Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike with the “Gift of Life Award” in recognition of her “resilient and compassionate leadership through the pandemic on behalf of Illinois residents, in addition to her support of programs to engage residents in the awareness, education, prevention and early detection of kidney disease”.


(Top left) Perfect kidney donor match and married couple Aaron Rhoden, Tonya Rhoden (Naperville)

(Top right) NKFI CEO Jackie Burgess-Bishop, Joan Rubschlager, Paul Rubschlager (Chicago)

(Bottom left) Dr. Amishi Desai, NKFI Outreach Coordinator Gerardo Huerta, Dr. Divya Jain (Chicago)

(Bottom right) NKFI Vice President Jill Schaaf (Chicago), Mark Schwartz (Highland Park), NKFI CEO Jackie Burgess-Bishop (Chicago)


Guests began the evening at fundraising stations, playing trivia and a penny and wine toss, with chances to take home prizes and bottles of wine. Famos! DJ Entertainment provided post-dinner dancing and merriment.


The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois improves the health and well-being of people at risk for or affected by kidney disease through prevention, education, and empowerment. As pioneers of scientific research and innovation, the NKFI focuses on the whole patient through the lens of kidney health. Relentless in its work, the Foundation improves lives through action, education, and accelerating change.


Inspired by a mission to “bridge the gap” to eliminate health disparities through free screening programs and community health initiatives in Illinois, the NKFI KidneyMobile is the only mobile kidney screening unit in the country. To date, the KidneyMobile has screened more than 55,000 Illinois residents for chronic kidney disease and its two biggest precursors, diabetes and hypertension.

19 views0 comments