Laila Ali packed up her 6-month-old son and 3-year-old daughter for a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in The Hope Affair, the American Kidney Fund’s Annual Gala, on Tuesday night.
Laila is the spokesperson for the American Kidney Fund, a non-profit that fights kidney disease and is the leading organization that provides financial assistance to dialysis patients. Laila crossed the country to hand out the Caregiver of the Year Award to Bernice Strange, an 80-year-old grandmother from Detroit.
Bernice was nominated for caregiver of the year by the staff at the dialysis center that her grandson Kenyon, 30, attends three times a week. She is considered a grandmother to all because she not only brings Kenyon to every appointment; she also visits and encourages other dialysis patients at the center. Bernice got to schmooze with Laila Ali and many Congressional leaders at the gala last night.
Laila decided to lend her celebrity to the AKF after the organization approached her with information about kidney disease. Laila, like most people, did not know that high blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of the disease. “What really bothers me is that it’s preventable and 9 out of 10 people don’t know they have [kidney disease].”
Laila is promoting the AKF’s Pair Up campaign, a program that encourages women to take the Pair Up Challenge at PairUpNow.org, share the disease risk factors with a friend, and pledge to fight kidney disease together.
“We need to start living healthier lifestyles,” Laila explained. “We need to start eating right. Forget all that, ‘I need some flavor’ stuff. You can eat good food without cooking it until the vitamins are gone and the colors are gone. It just takes getting used to.”
In addition to fighting kidney disease, Laila is hosting a new show on ABC every Saturday morning called “Everyday Health.” The show focuses on people who overcome health obstacles and pay it forward to help others.
— Sabrina M. Parker