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2013 Hope Award for Volunteer of the Year Goes to Chicagoan Johanna Aiken

Aiken to be recognized at annual dinner gala in Iowa City

Aiken (L) with daughter MacyMelbourne, Fla. – October 1, 2013 – The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today that Ms. Johanna Aiken is the 2013 recipient of its annual Hope Award for Volunteer of the Year.  This prestigious award will be presented to Aiken at its annual benefit dinner, Saving Grace – A Night of Hope, on Friday, October 18, 2013 in Iowa City. The award recognizes an individual who epitomizes the true spirit of volunteerism and has made significant contributions to the Foundation in the past year.

“Johanna has been an instrumental member of our volunteer leadership, helping to build the presence of our signature public awareness event, The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™,” said Executive Director Eleni Tsigas. “For the past three years, she dedicated herself as the Central Regional Coach and helped build numerous provider and patient education alliances in her local Chicago community. Johanna has been a tireless advocate not only for those who have been affected by preeclampsia, but for those who aren't here to speak for themselves.”

In 2003, Aiken was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, an extremely severe variant of preeclampsia, while being admitted to the hospital in active labor at 39 weeks. Luckily, her care providers recognized her signs & symptoms (significant swelling and high blood pressure) and diagnosed Aiken quickly. Aiken recognized that without their knowledge and timely intervention, she and her now ten-year-old daughter Macy would not be here.

She began volunteering for the Preeclampsia Foundation in 2009 at the fifth annual Saving Grace – A Night of Hope gala, and continued her involvement by co-coordinating the first-ever Chicago Promise Walk in 2010. The Chicago Promise Walk has gone on to raise over $120,000 to support preeclampsia research, support and education.

She then took her engagement up a level to become the Central Regional Coach in 2011, leading a team of hundreds of volunteers across the Midwest to successful fundraising and awareness in their local communities.

I look back on my life and realize how lucky I am,” Aiken stated readily. “I have a wonderful biological family, including a spirited, independent, smart and beautiful daughter. In addition, I also have a growing group of people whom I proudly call my family as well; fellow survivors and/or family members of those who weren’t as fortunate. I will never forget what has happened to me, and strive to ensure others are aware of the signs and symptoms, so they hopefully, will never have to experience preeclampsia and/or HELLP syndrome and to be a part of a club that no one chooses to join.”

About the Preeclampsia Foundation:  The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization established in 2000. It is dedicated to providing patient support and education, raising public awareness, catalyzing research and improving health care practices, envisioning a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies.

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