Some of the most important participants at the Promise Walks for Preeclampsia are healthcare providers who come out to support the Foundation. Many are community physicians and nurses who treat preeclampsia on a regular basis. The Promise Walk is an annual event held in numerous cities that allows the preeclampsia community to come together and mourn their losses, celebrate their hopes, and work together toward the common goal of raising money to fund research and create awareness.
Many Promise Walks invite healthcare providers to speak about their own professional experience with preeclampsia. That provider brings their own professional validation to the need for awareness and research, while giving attendees hope, knowing that there are medical professionals working diligently to solve the "preeclampsia puzzle."
So what causes these health care providers to be so passionate for the preeclampsia cause and to join our efforts at the Promise Walks? To provide some perspective, beat editor Autumn Spear sat down with two provider Promise Walk attendees, Dr. Doug Woelkers of San Diego, Calif. and Dr. Jim Wilk of Denver, Colo.
Dr. Wilk, an avid runner, was searching for his next race when he came across a listing for the Denver Promise Walk and thought, "Why, that sounds right up my alley -- a 5K and a way to raise money for preeclampsia!" He registered and started a team called "Friends of Rose Babies," enlisting the support of doctors and nurses at Rose Hospital's obstetrical unit.
Dr. Woelkers, a regular San Diego Promise Walk attendee, explained his involvement stemmed from a desire to "show women who suffered through a pregnancy with preeclampsia that the doctors, nurses, and residents at the University of California San Diego care about them, and are working to find a cure and a prevention."
Both physicians commented that their favorite part of the Promise Walks is the sharing of emotions and the overwhelming support of the community.
"There is a lot of emotion at the event," said Dr. Wilk, "particularly in the stories of the preeclampsia survivors and when viewing the memorial quilt for those who did not survive. It was very, very moving. This was an event to validate and celebrate and commemorate their -- and my -- experiences and feelings in dealing with preeclampsia."
Dr. Woelkers connected with the positive emotion as well: "I like to hear the cheers of support that the crowd always gives for the mom who is relating her story of illness. They are usually complete strangers, but yet everyone acts like family."
When asked why the Foundation's mission is so important, Dr. Woelkers responded, "From my perspective as a perinatologist, raising awareness about preeclampsia is like finding a new test to predict the disease. If more women and partners know about the disease, then they may seek help earlier when things start to seem wrong."
Dr. Wilk agreed, "I treat pregnant women every single working day and when I mention preeclampsia there is always at least one patient who asks, 'What's preeclampsia?' And when pregnant women have never even heard of a common illness that could kill them or their baby, that's a problem."