By Jill Siegel ~ As Father's Day approaches, I feel honored to be able to give a very personal shout-out in this newsletter to my husband and our daughter's father, Jeff Siegel. There are so many Preeclampsia Foundation fathers, husbands, and partners who are often 'silent partners' in our volunteer efforts. Any one of them - pick a name: Dan Sloan, Tim Purnell, Todd Beadle, Demetri Tsigas, Jason Drews, Kurt Detweiler, Jay Weeks, Tim Aiken... and the list could go on and on - could be profiled here. For one, I have to laugh when I recall Tim Aiken's help at the 2011 Chicago Promise Walk and 5K Run. Due to a misunderstanding with one of our vendors, he and I found ourselves driving in a car along a bike- and pedestrian-only path in order to mark our course!
I am sure all the many 'silent partners,' like Jeff, have schlepped more than a few tables to a Walk, occupied a child or overlooked household chores so their partner could take another volunteer conference call, and leveraged their own personal and professional relationships to garner donations to or awareness of the Preeclampsia Foundation.
Jeff has certainly done those things - not always getting a timely thank you from me. When I slow down long enough and pause to thank him, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have him beside me - and how lucky I was back in 2004 when we experienced our preeclampsia nightmare. Man, what he has been through!
Like many 'preeclampsia dads,' within a matter of 24 hours, he went from being a first-time father to potentially becoming a widower and single dad to our 10-week premature baby. Fortunately, baby Brooklyn would be home and I would be out of critical condition within a couple months, so he could finally return to work- but his evenings consisted of visiting me in the hospital where he had to repeatedly convince me how lucky we were (my weakened, stroke-impaired body was fairly skeptical!).
Jeff has been my co-volunteer for the Foundation since 2007 and for the last two years, he has taken on the role of Technology Coordinator for all of the Promise Walks. That role has nothing to do with my own volunteer work for the Foundation (although I do take full advantage of it for our local Walk efforts!). He might say his job is only to "put pins on the Promise Walk map," but I have seen evidence of a much richer involvement. He has provided tech support to Walk Coordinators, interfaced with contracted web developer regarding potential improvements to the website, helped update content on Walk webpages, and as he says, "uploaded more than 100 logos onto the Walk website."
Jeff has utilized his technology background and social media interests superbly in supporting our efforts in Chicago - creating a Chicago Preeclampsia Awareness Facebook page before I was even on Facebook personally, setting up a Linked In page, and tweeting during our Walk/Run. I am always momentarily stunned and touched when my Facebook feed includes a post about preeclampsia that he has made completely on his own - no prodding or suggesting from the wife! It is at these times that I am reminded of one of the main reasons Jeff says he helps out: "it is important to you, so it is important to me."
He connects with the Foundation's mission because our family was touched dramatically by preeclampsia, but also because he wants to support efforts to fight the disease and create awareness, saying, "I have been impressed by the level of passion and commitment that people have toward the Foundation and it is something with which I want to be associated."
As our Foundation and volunteers are now coming through the busiest part of the Walk season - the most successful in the Foundation's history - there are so many people to thank; but please don't forget about the many of whom are those 'silent partners' and supporters who deserve a huge part of the credit. Those are the people who appreciate the passion we all share and remind us how lucky we are when we, ourselves, are not so convinced.
So on this Father's Day, I say, thank you, Jeff; and thank you to all the other "Jeff"s we know are out there!