Throughout the month of May, the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia has been raising awareness across the country: from Ohio to Florida, Minnesota to Texas, and California to Massachusetts, two dozen sites hosted walks with many of these being first time events. This year's walk season represents the largest effort to date with the most number of major cities and walkers participating, raising over $230,000.
The National Promise Walk team ambitiously raised the national fundraising goal to $225,000 this year. The Promise Walk coordinators took this challenge and delivered. San Jose, Calif., raised more than $30,000 as a first time walk; San Diego, Irvine, Calif., and Davenport, Iowa, were just shy of $20,000 each, while Chicago raised over $26,000 at the second annual Walk-turned CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) certified 5K walk/run.
All walks included guest speakers such as preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome survivors, researchers and health care providers. In Irvine, Dr. Allison Hill, of the Mommy Docs and the Oprah Winfrey Network television show Deliver Me, spoke about her own personal preeclampsia experience.
A special touch at many of the walks was a balloon, dove or butterfly release to honor both those who have survived and those lost to this disease.
Additional program elements at many of the sites included face painters, balloon makers, silent auctions, raffles, jump houses for kids, bake sales, breakfast burritos, donuts, goodie bags, a special memorial quilt and more. Wanting to make a good impression as a first-time race event, Chicago went all out for their runners, giving out more than a dozen finisher medals and hosting a Kid's Dash. Chicago event planners were eager to include a special award for the first place survivor. Little did they know that preeclampsia survivor Quincy Fleming would not only be the first survivor to finish but also the top finisher in her age group and the second fastest female competitor.
Four more cities have walks coming up in June and July. Indianapolis, Ind., and Wausau, Wisc., start off the month of June as new walk sites, while Denver, Colo., will hold the second 5K run/walk of the season at the end of the month. Boston, Mass., will then close the season with a late July walk, featuring Susannah Pabot's Field of Cradles public art exhibit honoring babies lost to preeclampsia.
Help make strides and deliver hope: visit www.promisewalk.org and join one of these walks or help them reach their individual goals. A big thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the 2011 Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™!