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Team L2HK Raises Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome Awareness in Chicago

March 28, 2017

NikkiWoodbury Chicago

Nikki Woodbury and her team, Team L2HK, walk (and even run!) in Chicago to raise awareness for Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.  Nikki and her sister-in-law, Vanessa Ronowski, are the Co-Coordinators of the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia in Chicago this year.

  1. How did your family and team first get involved with the Preeclampsia Foundation?

Following the birth of my twins in 2010, I had to find a way to get back in shape.  Even though I wasn’t “runner,” I began slowly.  By 2014, I was ready to run my first 5K.  So, I began researching. I knew that so many races were for a cause, so I wanted to find a race that was for Preeclampsia. And, I found it!  The Promise Walk Chicago site popped up and immediately decided to start our team, Team L2H (Lexi, Logan and Harper; K was added after my nephew, Knox, was born in 2015).  Our team of about 14 people ran/walked in the 2014 Promise Walk in honor of my and my sister-in-law’s journey with Preeclampsia.

  1. Why is raising awareness and supporting research for preeclampsia so important to you?

I am an educated woman who had access to some of the best health care in the Chicago-land area.  I read everything I could about “what to expect” while pregnant and preeclampsia was barely touched upon in most of the pregnancy books.  And, HELLP syndrome? I don’t think there was even a line about HELLP. Additionally, I never felt that I had a voice during my pregnancy.  I was pregnant with twins during one of the hottest summers I can remember.  Most of my preeclamptic signs were quickly dismissed by my doctor and even by myself. I had so many signs (“heartburn,” spots in my vision, headaches) but still went undiagnosed and quickly went into HELLP Syndrome during delivery.  I wish I had felt empowered to understand the issues I was experiencing and voice those concerns to my medical doctors.  I want women to know what questions to ask and to feel that their voice matters.

  1. How has the Promise Walk and the Preeclampsia Foundation helped you and your family as you moved through your experience?

In 2013, my sister-in-law also had a severe case of Preeclampsia and delivered my niece at 26 weeks.  Following Harper’s birth, I knew that I was being called to help bring a voice to this disease.  How could I have such a severe case of Preeclampsia/HELLP Syndrome AND my sister-in-law?  The Promise Walk was the first race I had ever run in full, and it was a race that meant so much to me.  When I crossed the finish line, I knew that I had taken the biggest step towards healing.  I did something I thought I never could.  I ran an entire 5K race. That finish line symbolized the start for me.  I found my voice.  I began talking about how much this disease impacted me and the start of my motherhood journey. It was an ugly start, and I wished that it had begun differently.  However, it’s a part of me and my story.  So, it’s time to share it!

  1. What would you say to people who are NOT currently participating in the walk to get them involved?

We all have a story to tell.  This Walk is a family event and about all of our journeys into motherhood.  Come share your story with us.

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