It’s the start of a tradition. The first Savannah Promise Walk for Preeclampsia will be Saturday at J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill, and the public is invited to attend. The 5k walk/run will include food, music and fun for the whole family.
“The best part is the Savannah Promise Walk is a family-friendly event, so even if you have not been personally affected by preeclampsia it is going to be a great day to enjoy some sunshine with your family, be active and raise money for a great cause,” walk coordinator and volunteer Abigail Jarrard said.
“We will also have a bounce house donated by Moon Bounces More, and the Savannah Princess will be there.”
During the event, drinks and light snacks will be available while live music plays from DJ! Paul with Tunes in a Bucket.
There will also be a silent auction. Some of the items include gift certificates to businesses, such as Steele Magnolia’s Salon, Wine and Canvas, Coastal Confections, The Furniture Parlor, T.J. Maxx and more. There are also tickets to Zoo Atlanta, season box seats for Savannah Sand Gnat games, a signed Paula Deen cookbook, overnight stays at the Hilton DeSoto Savannah and the Marriott Savannah Riverfront and more.
The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia is the fundraising event of the Preeclampsia Foundation. The local sponsors are Exclusive Engravings and the Richmond Hill branch of The Savannah Bank.
The silent auction and registration costs for the 5k will go to raise money for the Preeclampsia Foundation, which uses funding to find a cure, educate pregnant women and health care providers and raise awareness of preeclampsia — something Jarrard knows all about.
“Preeclampsia is a disorder that only occurs during pregnancy and the postpartum period,” Jarrard said. “It affects the health of both the mother and the unborn baby. It is fairly common, affecting about one in every 12 pregnancies in the United States. Unfortunately, we still lose moms and babies to this condition, which is why it’s so important that families know the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and to get care when they need it.”
With proper care, preeclampsia can be managed and the mother and baby can survive. For Jarrard, that is fortunately what happened.
In 2012, Jarrard was pregnant with a boy but had been in and out of the hospital with high blood pressure.
“I went into my doctor’s office for my weekly appointment and never went home,” she said. “My blood pressure was high, and I had protein in my urine. My feet, legs, hands and face were so swollen.”
Her doctor admitted her to the hospital and told her the baby would have to be induced. Jarrard’s son, Grayson, was born three weeks early weighing just below 6 pounds.
“He had stopped growing in the last few weeks (in utero),” Jarrard said of her baby son. “He was so tiny that preemie clothes swallowed him.”
After he was born, Jarrard got to hold her son for less than a minute before the nurses took him to the NICU. She had to wait until the next day to see him because of the treatment she was on for preeclampsia.
“Most mothers get to hold their babies right away and the baby gets to stay in the room with them, but this was not the case for us. Grayson was born on a Saturday, and I was released the following Monday,” Jarrard said.
“Grayson spent his first week of life in the NICU because the medicine they gave me to bring my blood pressure down, called magnesium sulfate, made him very sluggish.”
Later in the week, Jarrard went back to the doctor because her legs were still swollen and she felt pain. After tests, Jarrard was told her liver was shutting down and she would have to be admitted to the hospital again.
“I was put back on magnesium sulfate,” Jarrard explained. “This medicine makes you feel awful. My newborn baby was upstairs in the NICU, while I was downstairs in the hospital. It broke my heart to be away from him again.”
A week after Grayson was born, both mother and son had been released and were able to go home. Now, two years later, Grayson is healthy and happy.
But for many families, the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Because of that and her own experience, Jarrard is passionate about raising funds and awareness for the Preeclampsia Foundation.
“The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia is the only national fundraising and awareness event for this cause, and most importantly, it represents an opportunity for the community to come together, recognize the impact this disorder has on our local families and create hope for a world where preeclampsia is no longer a threat,” Jarrard said.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m Saturday and the 5k begins at 10 a.m. Strollers are welcome, but pets are asked to stay home. Jarrard is still looking for volunteers, a photographer and a face painter to donate their time to the event.
Walkers and runners can register online up until Friday. Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children under 13. Those with early registration will receive a T-shirt and goody bag full of items from local sponsors and businesses. Community members can also register the day of the 5k for a cost of $25 for adults.
For more information and to register, visit www.promisewalk.org/savannah.