| Advocacy | Dialysis | Kidney disease | Patient stories | Transplant

Honoring Three NKF Volunteers with The Arthur P. Pasquarella Leadership in Action Award

April 25, 2024, 8:10am EDT

Group of people at Kidney Walk

At the National Kidney Foundation, we are committed to educating people about their risk of kidney disease while dismantling structural inequities in kidney care, dialysis, and transplantation. 

We've made tremendous strides over the years, including the adoption of a race-free eGFR equation and passing the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act.

None of this would have been possible without the countless volunteers and Voices for Kidney Health advocates who work alongside us. 

Today, we honor three volunteers who've gone above and beyond in their kidney advocacy.

Kelli Strother

Kelli Strother first visited the Colorado NKF office in 2018. She went on behalf of her employer to brainstorm mental health support for those with kidney disease. After discussing mental health, Kelli shared that her father was on dialysis. Touched by her story, the NKF team invited her to future events. 

"I showed up and saw all these kidney donors and recipients that were participating. One man wore a shirt that said 'rock one kidney'. The attitude towards it was fun," said Kelli. "I got to ask questions and talk one-on-one with donors. One donor was an ultra-distance runner who had done 100-mile runs with one kidney."

Inspired, Kelli participated in a paired kidney donor exchange, which resulted in life-saving transplants for her father and another recipient.

Her involvement didn't end there. Kelli continued to advocate with NKF and was pivotal in passing legislation protecting living kidney donors in Colorado. Kelli continues to attend NKF events and lobby for improved kidney disease policies on a national level.

Read Kelli Strother's kidney donation story.

David Sultzer

Dave Sultzer, a retired military officer, has dedicated over a decade to volunteering with NKF. His journey began after he donated a kidney to his mother. He saw an NKF kidney disease screening event ad and felt called to volunteer.

Since then, Dave has consistently attended nearly every NKF event, from KEEP Healthy Kidney screenings to the Kidney Walk and NKF Golf Classic. Though his mother has passed away, Dave honors her legacy through his advocacy efforts.

Driven by the desire to encourage early kidney function testing and make living donation more obtainable, Dave passionately advocates for legislative change. He believes that kidney disease does not discriminate based on age, race, or demographics and emphasizes its impact on patients and their caregivers.

“Young people, old people, Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, it doesn't matter," Dave told Spectrum News New York 1. "Your population, your race, your demographic, your age–this disease can affect you and change not only your but the life of your caregivers."

Dave’s advocacy continues. He holds leadership positions in NKF's Kidney Advocacy Committee and the Wizards Organ Donation Awareness Tournament. He also serves on the NKF/NCA Board of Advisors and the Medical Advisory Board. 

Learn more about NKF's Kidney Advocacy Committee

Sheila Gordon

Sheila Gordon has been involved in the NKF Authors Luncheon for over three decades–first as an NKF employee and then as a volunteer and chair of the Authors Luncheon Planning Committee. 

Each year, she generously shares her time, talents, and expertise to ensure that the Authors Luncheon planning and execution are financially and experientially successful. 

"It's an honor to serve as Chair of this incredible event and reach this significant milestone of 35 years celebrating literature while increasing awareness of kidney disease and raising millions of dollars to support NKF's work," said Sheila Gordon. "In the decades I have been doing this work, kidney care has undergone remarkable transformations–living donor transplants and chain donations are common, xenotransplantation is on the horizon and could alleviate wait times for transplants and home dialysis is now possible for millions of patients."

Sheila has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for NKF. Her wealth of knowledge, experience, and close relationships with longtime supporters are invaluable. She's contributed greatly to the event's growth and funds raised over the years!

Read about NKF's 35th Annual Authors Luncheon.

Get involved

Do Kelli, David, and Sheila inspire you? Get involved with NKF. Whether you want to give, volunteer, or advocate, we need your help to win the fight against kidney disease.

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