LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ELENI TSIGAS
It's hard to imagine the impact that a public awareness event like The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™ can have on the consciousness of the public, our elected officials, health care providers and researchers, but with 44 walks scheduled in major markets across the United States, we are making strides and delivering hope!
Ten years ago, I daresay not too many people had heard the word "preeclampsia." Now the media often cover the latest research or provide helpful education, for example, CNN's February article on five things you need to know about eclampsia, and stories about real lives that have been impacted, like these Kansas City and Dallas mission family stories.
We are enormously grateful to our national sponsors who join hundreds of regional and local sponsors to make this event possible and contribute to the impact we are making! Interestingly this year, I feel a personal connection to all our 2013 national sponsors:
- BabyCenter has an extremely robust website, used by about 80% of all pregnant women and is the top referral site (apart from search engines) to our website. Thank you to our national media sponsor and for naming us one of their Global Giving partners!
- After my first son was born with a straw-sized dried-up umbilical cord (how he thrived is beyond me!), I researched cord blood and found out that it is a rich repository of stem cells, providing oodles of controversy-free building blocks that could advance medical research. Determined to harvest cord blood from any other pregnancies I might have, my second son was born with a veritable "fire hose" making the local cord blood bank all the richer! ViaCord from PerkinElmer also believes in the power of cord blood, and we're grateful for their support of The Promise Walk.
- And, what brand of infant and toddler car seats did I purchase when my sons were babies? That's right - Britax, whom we welcome to The Promise Walk and to the Preeclampsia Foundation as a first year national sponsor. Their focus on the health, safety and well being of our babies is a shared passion. Thank you, Britax!
- Finally, Creative Counsel, based in Portland, Ore., is owned by a dear friend who has consistetnly provided us with the most competitive prices for our t-shirts and other merchandise for several years. He and his wife, Jennifer, were married on a day that, for my second pregnancy, turned into a horror as I left their wedding and went home to cry over a sure-to-be pregnancy loss. It's a scary story that ended well - my baby survived, not only that mid-pregnancy scare, but also a severe case of preeclampsia, to become my now delightful teenage son. We're so thankful for Creative Counsel's continued support!
That may sound like a lot of disconnected threads, but it all comes together to fill my heart with gladness and gratitude. It truly takes a community of caring to move the needle. Thank you readers, for allowing me to get a bit personal with my experiences!
Another indicator of the impact the Preeclampsia Foundation is having is evident through our presence at major medical science conferences.
What do we have that researchers want?
When I first started doing this work about a decade ago, I would attend a medical meeting where introductions went something like this:
Me: "Hi, I'm Eleni Tsigas with the Preeclampsia Foundation."
Them: Eyes glazed over. "Huh? There's a foundation for that?"
Last week in Orlando at the annual international meeting for the Society for Gynecological Investigation (SGI), it went more like this:
Me: "Hi, I'm Eleni Tsigas."
Them: Blank stare. (Well, OK, not everybody. Some smiled.)
Me: "With the Preeclampsia Foundation..."
Them: "Oh yes! We know you well. You do great work! You have a great website! When are your research grant applications due this year? Can we partner with you on..."
We were at SGI to preview a database that will provide an important asset to the research world very soon. Our ability to tap into the vast troves of information from preeclampsia survivors around the world had the rapt attention of investigators. Our ability to stay in touch with survivors and their children presents a unique value, nearly unparalleled by any other repository of information and biological samples. Stay tuned for the launch of this registry this summer and how you can be part of it and the future of preeclampsia research.
And never underestimate the thread of connections that we each weave with our lives!