It’s a frightening statistic: The Washington, DC area leads the nation in the prevalence of kidney disease. But there’s hope. The Kidney Ball is the National Kidney Foundation’s largest one-day fundraiser, raising funds to support medical research and other critical initiatives. To keep the momentum going, Bill Couper, a key voice in the area’s business community, is lending his name to the cause. This fall, Couper will serve as chair of the 2009 Kidney Ball. In the following Q&A, Couper shares details about the event and how it will help individuals and families cope with what is one of the most prevalent but overlooked health challenges in the United States today.
Why did you choose to chair the 2009 Kidney Ball?
Bill Couper: I believe as business leaders we have a social responsibility to the community at large. Working with non-profit partners, we can make a significant difference in the lives of many. Kidney disease has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 26 million Americans –more than 13 percent of the adult population – have kidney disease and most don’t know it. They are also unaware that diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of kidney disease—all three of these diseases are very pervasive in our community.
Why is this event important to the Washington community?
Bill Couper: The Washington, DC 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.
Support of the Kidney Ball allows the National Kidney Foundation to prevent kidney disease in our region through early detection screening and follow-up for those at risk, public education, and primary care physician education. In addition to the early detection of kidney disease, the Foundation funds research, provides patient services, and sponsors a variety of initiatives designed to increase the number of organ donors in this country. Right now, more than 100,000 Americans are on the waiting list for organ transplants. The shortage of donors is so severe that two-thirds of the people on the list will die before receiving a donated organ.
What can attendees expect to find at this year’s gala?
Bill Couper: The 2009 Kidney Ball will feature gourmet dining, live and silent auctions, dancing, and a special performance by the 80s sensation Blondie. A special highlight of the evening will be a video tribute to Ron Paul, President of Ronald D. Paul Companies, Inc. and Chairman of EagleBank, who will be receiving the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award for his two decades of service to the National Kidney Foundation. Ron just had his second transplant in January with a kidney donated by his CFO Kathy McCallum. The Kidney Ball promises to be an inspirational and entertaining evening for all.
Are there tickets still available?
Bill Couper: Corporate tables, ranging in price from $5,000 – $50,000, are still available but they are going quickly! Individual tickets are $300. For more information, visit www.kidneywdc.org or call 202.244.7900 ext. 28.
How much money do you expect the Kidney Ball to raise this year?
Bill Couper: We are setting our sights on $1.3 million through corporate support, tickets sales, and the live and silent auctions. Of course we would love to raise more! Supporting the National Kidney Foundation is a good investment – of every dollar raised, 85 cents goes to programs and services.
What is the National Kidney Foundation doing about the organ donor shortage?
Bill Couper: As I mentioned, more than 100,000 people are on the waiting list for organs, including 80,000 waiting for a kidney. Every two hours someone on the waiting list for a kidney transplant dies. To address this complex problem, the National Kidney Foundation has developed a comprehensive action plan called END THE WAIT! to increase the number of transplants for kidney patients. Through collaboration among many organizations and agencies, NKF’s END THE WAIT! recommendations will eliminate barriers, institute best practices across the country, improve the transplant system, cover the cost of donating an organ, reduce regional and ethnic disparities, and increase living and deceased donation throughout the United States.