Kidney Ball continues helping Michiganders with kidney disease at 14th annual event


On Dec. 1, 440 guests attended the 14th annual National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) Kidney Ball. After stepping back into the Roaring Twenties at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, women dressed in flapper attire and men in black tie helped raise $420,000 through a silent auction, donations, and an exciting live auction.

One Kidney Ball highlight was the presentation of the 2018 Kidney Crusader Award to Dr. Francis Dumler, Beaumont Hospital’s former Chief of Nephrology. Dr. Dumler supported the NKFM mission throughout his career, including serving for several years as Chair of the NKFM Scientific Advisory Board. Henry Ford nephrologist and 2017 Kidney Crusader honoree Dr. Jerry Yee proudly presented the award to Dumler, his colleague and friend.

Another highlight was honoring 11 year old Ava Daraskavich of Novi and her family. Ava’s two younger sisters, Maddie and Sylvia, each have a different type of kidney disease. The family had done Kidney Walks previously but Ava wanted to do more. For last year’s NKFM Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo in May, she organized a team, Daraskavich Strong, by gathering 110 friends and family who walked in Maddie’s and Sylvia’s honor. Together, they raised over $5,000 dollars for the life-changing programs and services offered by the NKFM. The Kidney Ball audience was treated to the Daraskavich family story on video and hearing from the three daughters onstage.

During the pre-dinner cocktail reception, guests perused over 250 eclectic auction items in the hallways and a Willy Wonka-themed children’s auction room filled with toys and treats. Attendees posed in front of “speakeasy” decor, enjoyed the photo booth and posted on the live social media wall using #KidneyBallDetroit. Wine and beer were sampled at tasting stations and a “Great Gatsby” special cocktail was available at the bar.

After dinner in the Woodward Ballroom, WDIV-TV’s Steve Garagiola hosted the program again this year, including remarks from the Kidney Ball Committee Honorary Co-Chairs Duane McLean, Detroit Tigers Vice President of Business Operations; and Scott LaRiche, Executive Manager and Vice President, Lou LaRiche Chevrolet; as well as Event Co-Chairs Jon Krebs, President of Madison Heights Glass; and Jeff Chandler, Executive Vice President – Surety, VTC Insurance Group.

The live auction featured Superbowl LIII tickets, a “Hamilton” play package, and a unique stay at a Villa in Italy. After the auctions, guests moved to the elegant Venetian Ballroom to dance to Your Generation in Concert (YGIC). The “Party Hard Speakeasy”-themed after-party also included an open bar, more beer tasting, late night Coneys, and the popular candy “bar”.

“Over 100 dedicated staff and volunteers work diligently to create one of our largest signature fundraising events every year. Then, at the Kidney Ball, when the community shows their support for Michiganders living with kidney disease and our evidence-based prevention programs, I feel we have done our job right,” states NKFM CEO Linda Smith-Wheelock.

Kidney Ball sponsors included Madison Heights Glass Company, Inc; Meijer; Mars Wrigley; MillerCoors; Founders Brewing Co; William Hill Estate Winery; LaMarca USA; and New Amsterdam Vodka, among many others.

For more information about the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s programs and services throughout the state, please go to or call 800-482-1455.

About NKFM

The mission of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is to prevent kidney disease and improve the quality of life for those living with it. The NKFM is widely known for providing more programs and services to more people than any other region or state. The organization is recognized for its success in sound fiscal management by receiving a 4-star rating, for the last 11 years in a row, from Charity Navigator—the nation’s leading charity evaluator.

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