National Kidney Foundation of Illinois to host 34th annual Gift of Life Gala Oct. 24

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois is planning its 34th annual "Gift of Life Gala." Proceeds go toward its mission to improve the health and well-being of those at risk or affected by kidney disease through free screening programs and community health initiatives.

The gala will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, at The Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton Place in Chicago. The evening will pay homage to "Old Chicago" with themed activities, cocktails, dinner stations and raffles.

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois will present Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and his son Chicago police officer Daniel Johnson with the "Gift of Life Award" in recognition of their contributions to the world of kidney disease.

Nearly two years ago, 25-year-old Daniel donated a kidney to his father, Eddie, after he was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, an acute inflammation of the kidney.

Eddie T. Johnson was appointed superintendent in April 2016 and commands the second largest police agency in the U.S. With nearly three decades of service to the city, he was appointed to build a culture within the department to strengthen community partnership, reduce gun violence, and develop systemic reforms around police accountability.

Renowned Chicago philanthropists Joan and Paul Rubschlager will be honored through the "Harold & Molly Schwartz Founders Award" for their outstanding commitment and achievement on behalf of the foundation.

In the mid-1980s, the couple decided the best way to share their success in the baking business with the community was by founding the Joan and Paul Rubschlager Foundation. Joan says, "We have always considered kidney disease research to be a worthy cause." The couple's personal connections to the disease made the decision to donate to the foundation a simple one.

The Rubschlagers owned a successful baking business for many years. Their head baker's wife suffered from kidney disease and waited for a transplant that would never come. Joan's own father suffered kidney failure during emergency surgery. The couple knew there was much to be done in the area of research and patient support.

"Much progress has been made in many of these arenas during the years between 1985 and now; much is left to do," Joan says.

The Rubschlagers generously presented this year's Gift of Life Gala but their generosity did not begin with their financial success.

Joan says, "We can well remember that, as young adults we had little money to spare, but we did give back in small amounts to various nonprofits. Instead of money, there are numerous opportunities for giving back in volunteer hours. These kinds of gifts are especially valuable to both the nonprofit and the donor because of the lasting friendships that are established through these contacts. Donors of time and talent can feel good about what they are doing for a favorite organization and still not be parting with dollars which they truly do not have to give."

Regina Waldroup, reporter at NBC5, Chicago-native and longtime public supporter of organ donation, will serve as mistress of ceremonies and host the evening's events. Guests will enjoy Windy City-inspired activity stations throughout the evening as they step back into Prohibition and battle off in a Chicago Cubs versus Chicago White Sox showdown. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase in advance on the foundation's website.

Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. followed by "classic Chicago" dinner stations such as Wrigleyville favorites and Garrett Popcorn Shops® at 7 p.m. FAMOS! DJ Entertainment will provide music for the evening.

Event sponsors include Gift of Hope, University of Chicago Medicine Transplant Center, Fresenius Kidney Care and NX Stage.

Tickets are $350 per person and $300 for individuals younger than age 30.

Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Purchase tickets for the 2019 Gift of Life Gala at

For sponsorship inquiries contact Brigit Dunne, development coordinator, at or (312) 321-1500.

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. The foundation is a lifeline for all people affected by kidney disease. As pioneers of scientific research and innovation, it focuses on the whole patient through the lens of kidney health. The foundation improves lives through action, education and accelerating change.

For information on the foundation, visit or

On Oct. 24, Chicago philanthropists Joan and Paul Rubschlager will receive the Harold & Molly Schwartz Founders Award at the 34th annual "Gift of Life Gala" to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. Courtesy of National Kidney Foundation of Illinois
Regina Waldroup will lead the 34th annual "Gift of Life Gala" Oct. 24.
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