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Jefferson Award Winner Works Tirelessly For Kidney Disease Sufferers

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Event chairman Tyler Hofinga checks last-minute details at the National Kidney Foundation Authors Lunch, October 26, 2013.
(CBS)

Event chairman Tyler Hofinga checks last-minute details at the National Kidney Foundation Authors Lunch, October 26, 2013.
(CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Nearly one million people in the Bay Area suffer from chronic kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. One man has spent nearly two decades getting the word out in a big way: this week’s Jefferson Award winner. He’s described as an energetic leader and salesman who knows how to rally lots of people to a good cause.

When we met up with him Tyler Hofinga was buzzing around a ballroom checking every last detail ahead of the Authors Luncheon fundraiser. He was calm, cool, and in command.

“My attention to detail is very high, and we produce an exceptional experience for our clients and patrons,” Hofinga said. He was getting ready to welcome 1500 at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel to hear from famous authors like Ann Lamott, Simon Winchester, Lidia Bastianich, and Daniel Boulud.

For 19 years, he has chaired the Authors Luncheon, the largest fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation in San Francisco.

It’s a big job, but, Hofinga said, “When you love something, it’s not work.”

His efforts help increase awareness, prevention, and treatment for 73,000,000 people at risk for kidney disease and 26,000,000 who already have it.

This fall’s luncheon raised more than $400,000.

Nicole Friedland of the National Kidney Foundation says the organization uses the money to get the word out.

“Kidney disease is fairly silent,” Friedland said. “It often doesn’t present until the kidneys are failing.”

Hofinga plans months in advance, and oversees every last detail. Author Amy Tan has worked alongside him.

“He finds what needs to be done and he brings in these patrons,” Tan said. “That’s one of the hardest things you have to do, year after year after year, to make it a tradition.”

Thanks to Hofinga and the Kidney Foundation, Jessica Goldman Foung says she gets support while awaiting a kidney transplant.

“It gives me encouragement,” she said. “It gets me the resources to do everything I want to do to not only keep myself healthy but fulfill all my life goals.”

“The Kidney Foundation has made such a significant contribution to so many,” Hofinga added. “That’s why I think I’m passionate about it.”

So for 19 years of faithful fundraising for the National Kidney Foundation, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Tyler Hofinga.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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