Next month, the National Kidney Foundation will host the 33rd Annual Kidney Ball. The event will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, November 16, 2013. The D.C. area has the highest prevalence of kidney disease in the U.S. The black-tie event is looking to raise $1 million for research, patient services, public and professional education, and organ donation awareness.
This year, General Al Edmonds of Logistics Applications is chair of the event. He recently spoke with us about the upcoming gala and discussed the mission of the Kidney Foundation, his favorite part of the night and more.
WashingtonExec: How would you describe the mission of the Kidney Foundation?
Al Edmonds: The mission is to try to help with education as well as support people who need treatment. When I realized that there were such a large number of people who need treatment and so many need transplants, it moved me to be very interested in the foundation and what its mission is. When I looked at the current situation, in terms of renal illnesses in the Washington, DC area, it became clear to me that the best solution to this problem is really education to try to prevent it rather than responsive treatment. It also came home to me about three or four years ago. I had a person working for me in my company who had to go to dialysis three times a week. Fortunately, our customer allowed him to work the hours to allow him to do it. His wife donated a kidney to him and that kidney worked for a period of time, but after a little bit of time that failed. He has to go to dialysis more frequently now because he is in need of another donor. It is a traumatic thing in one’s life if you have this renal disease. I have to tell you it touched my heart.
WashingtonExec: How much do you all plan to raise this year? Are you on track to meet that goal?
Al Edmonds: We always set a target for $1 million. We’ve made it a few times but the climate is tough right now. The toughest part of the economy is that things like sequestration impact everybody. Past donors still want to help but when you are waiting for contracts to be awarded, contracts being moved to the right and things like that – there are some people who just can’t give. I’ll tell you what I’ve seen so far is that several who have given, have given less. Fortunately for us, there are several who have increased their contribution by 50%. We’ve had our work cut out for us to try to get to that target. We’ve always set a $1 million as a good goal for this event. September is a very important month for us in terms of fundraising.
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite part of the Kidney Ball?
Al Edmonds: My favorite part of the event – believe it or not – is to watch the person or the individuals who have testimonies to give to the group. I’ll go to the Ball and this year there is going to be a two–year-old child whose father donated his kidney to him. Another year a mother donated her kidney to her baby and now her baby is in second grade. Those kind of testimonies – it really is donating a life. You are giving a life to someone. Those testimonies are the most cherished part of the whole event for me. I was talking to my grandson, Grant, about being the Chairman of this committee. He sat there and listened to me. When I finished talking, he just went upstairs and brought $40 down to help me raise my $1 million. Since then, he and his other cousins have raised money under the banner of ‘Kids Helping Kids.’ That just warmed my heart. My 10th grade granddaughter, Jordan, is using this as a part of her community outreach for school. I like the idea that they are warming up to the idea of helping others.
WashingtonExec: What do you think will be the highlight of Kidney Ball 2013?
Al Edmonds: We always have good entertainment. This year we are going to have the Commodores. We always have good auction items. I usually spend too much at the auction because I bid on any beds & breakfasts and any sports tickets. For a couple of years we have had beautiful puppies to auction off. If you want a puppy, this is the perfect place to give a dog a loving home. We have a lot of other great things for auction.
To read more on this year’s Kidney Ball, click here.