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Volunteer Profile: The Chicago Promise Walk Planning Team

Promise Walk Team of the Year – Chicago, IL Promise Walk (Jasmine Mago, Melanie DalPonte, Nikki Mather, Elizabeth Pebelske, Jill Siegel and Johanna Aiken): Putting on the best walk in the nation takes a village! In 2014, the Chicago Promise Walk and 5K Run was the top event in the nation, raising over $65,000 with over 500 participants. The success of the event was due in no small part to the hardwork of the three lead walk coordinators, Mago, DalPonte and Mather, building off of the strong infrastructure of their predecessors Pebelske, Siegel and Aiken. In addition, the Chicago volunteer team puts in many hours of mission work in Chicago through patient education and improving health care practices in their local community.

How did preeclampsia bring your team of volunteers together?

team_chicago.jpg (135 KB)All of us are preeclampsia and/or HELLP survivors, but we are 6 different examples of how the disease can strike mothers and babies at different gestations, with varying complications, outcomes and long-term ramifications, including but not limited to premature birth, stillbirth, stroke, and long term health issues.  We often say we are members of a club we never wanted to join! But our experiences during pregnancy all sent us down a road on which our paths were crossed. Some of us came together through word of mouth of our stories among friends. Others found us through the Foundation’s website after inquiring about volunteering. Still others of us attended a walk to heal and connect with others and were motivated to use their own leadership skills to help plan activities.

What gets this team excited about serving the Chicago preeclampsia community?

We are thrilled that the 2014 Chicago Promise Walk and 5K Run for Preeclampsia raised $65,000 and was attended by over 500 people.  We are excited to keep the momentum going and make 2015 and even bigger year!

What does it mean to be recognized as the Promise Walk Planning Team of the Year?

IMGL9842.jpg (5.71 MB)To be recognized by the committee as the Planning Team of the Year is a wonderful recognition... not only of our outcomes, but of the fact that it does take a team to build a local movement. The 6 of us worked together as a team, along with some other important volunteers, to make the 2014 Chicago Promise Walk as successful as it could be.  We are very proud of our accomplishments and will work even harder for the future Promise Walks to be just as successful.  Thank you to the committee for this great honor!

What has been your most gratifying moment as a volunteer? 

"Knowing that each day I am bringing Awareness, I have met so many people who didn't know there were others (who had preeclampsia) out there.  Being at the Promise Walk for the 1st time was so overwhelming, I had no idea what to expect.  The next year, I volunteered at the Promise Walk and began to form a bond that will never be broken; we have a Sisterhood.  I love knowing that I have 'Sisters' who know what I went through and what I struggle with, around the time of my son's birthday.  Being a part of the Chicago Promise Walk has helped me emotionally heal from my Preeclampsia Journey." -Nikki Mather, 2014 Chicago Promise Walk Co-Coordinator

"I have found such a wonderful group of women who knows and understands what I have been through.  It is like a support group for me to be a part of this volunteer team and I know I can count on them to get though the rough times.  With their support, I, in return, have been able to share my stories and experiences with other people at the Promise Walk, hopefully letting these other moms know that they are not alone in their experience with preeclampsia."   -Melanie DalPonte, 2014 Chicago Promise Walk Co-Coordinator

IMGL0297.jpg (9.18 MB)"For me, certainly seeing the crowds grow at our Walks has been rewarding; but I have been equally moved and gratified when, because of my networks’ awareness of my work, someone reaches out to me on a personal level when someone they know is threatened by preeclampsia. It is incredibly satisfying to be able to bring them information and comfort." -Jill Siegel, 2013 Chicago Promise Walk Co-Coordinator

"Knowing that the Chicago Walks have raised so much to support research is obviously wonderful, but I also realize the importance of volunteering and the Promise Walk when I meet mothers and families who have just recently experienced preeclampsia, and often loss.  Knowing that we are helping these moms find support, comfort, and other women with a common experience is very gratifying."  -Elizabeth Pebelske, 2013 Chicago Promise Walk Co-Coordinator

What is your team's continuing goal for the near future of the Chicago Promise Walk event?

Our goal is to make the Chicago Promise Walk and 5K bigger and better each year by reaching more families affected by preeclampsia, spreading awareness and raising funds to help find a cure.  We are already starting to plan the 2015 event and thinking about doing some other types of awareness and fundraising events in the future.

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