History | East Tennessee Kidney Foundation, Inc.™



Years ago, the local kidney foundation which serviced the East Tennessee region was an “affiliate” of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). That means the local foundation had a board of directors, authority to make decisions, and paid the NKF headquarters a portion of revenue. The NKF representatives from New York persuaded the local East Tennessee affiliate to change from an “affiliate” to a “division.” It took 18 months for the board to decide what would be best for the local foundation and local East Tennesseans. It was a close vote, but the board of directors voted to become a “division” of the NKF, thinking this would be the best way to serve East Tennesseans.

However, within 18 months of this change to a “division,” the NKF executives shut down the Knoxville office, stating “financial difficulties,” and left the area. Hundreds of dialysis patients were left without transportation assistance that they desperately relied upon each month to get to and from treatments, as well as many other services the kidney foundation provided.

This closure came as a shock to the community, sparking local news stories and anger from local companies whom had supported the kidney foundation. The week after the kidney foundation was shut down, the former board members held an emergency meeting and filed paperwork to establish the EAST TENNESSEE Kidney Foundation, a non-profit, charitable 501(c)3 organization. They vowed never again to merge with a national organization and to ALWAYS REMAIN 100% LOCAL. We were officially chartered with the state of Tennessee in March 2010.

After two years of fundraising from the KenJo Markets Coupon Book Campaign, we officially started our flagship Dianne Hagey Dialysis Transportation Program in August 2011, serving several dozen patients in a few counties. Currently, we now serve approximately 200 patients per month in a 15-county area. We have grown to include a Dental Assistance Program as well as a Nutritional Supplement Program. We receive grant funding from 10 United Way Agencies, including Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne (Cumberland Trails United Way), Grainger, Jefferson, Knox (Greater Knoxville), Loudon, Roane and Union.

The NKF has since returned to East Tennessee, hosting an annual “East Tennessee Kidney WALK” every spring at UT’s Botanical Gardens. The name of this event can be confusing, but it is NOT related to ETKF. At the ETKF, all money we raise ALWAYS stays right here at home and helps local INDIVIDUALS suffering from kidney disease. Our largest fundraiser is the KNOX SHAMROCK FEST, which includes our annual LUCKY KIDNEY 6K Run & 2k Fun Walk, and a two-day family-friendly IRISH FESTIVAL in Market Square, downtown Knoxville. The event is held each March to coincide with Kidney Disease Awareness Month. Knox Shamrock Fest™ has grown into a regional weekend destination event for the whole family. Register for the run/walk on our race website or visit our race website and www.VisitKnoxville.com for more information.