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Preeclampsia Foundation CEO kicks off “Re-Connect Tour” road trip to 17 states

Preeclampsia Re-Connect Tour RV Logo.png (111 KB)

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Preeclampsia is a life-threatening hypertensive disorder affecting 300,000 pregnant women in the U.S. annually, often yielding serious complications for mother and baby as well as long-term effects. Eleni Z. Tsigas is devoting her summer to connecting with those affected by the disorder while raising awareness of its impact on families and communities.

On Thursday, June 2, Tsigas, chief executive officer for the Preeclampsia Foundation, will kick off a 17-state road trip traveling in an RV through parts of the Midwest and the eastern United States. The driving force behind the “Re-Connect Tour: Putting Preeclampsia on the Map,” Tsigas will make stops in 22 cities over the course of two months to meet preeclampsia survivors, donors, researchers, clinicians, and supporters. The trek covers thousands of miles with planned activities in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Indianapolis. Other stops include Madison, Wisconsin; New Haven, Connecticut; Syracuse, New York; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee. Foundation staff, friends and family members will accompany her in the RV on various legs of the tour.

“This is my opportunity to get out and listen and learn from families affected by preeclampsia, to meet them where they are and understand their experiences,” said Tsigas, a two-time preeclampsia survivor who has held her current position with the national non-profit patient advocacy organization since 2009. “There is nothing like sitting down with someone, looking them in the eye, and connecting with them on a personal level. This RV trip is a more grassroots way for me to do that. It allows for shared experiences as well as new opportunities and exploration.”

Tsigas also plans to raise awareness of the Preeclampsia Registry, an online database hosted by the foundation that uses individual pregnancy experiences and medical information in research studies to discover the causes—and possible cures—of preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders. The registry has more than 8,000 members. Tsigas said the registry is currently seeking more maternal experiences from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to ensure they are seen, heard, and more proportionately represented in the research.

Preeclampsia is 60% more common in Black women than in those of other races and ethnicities. Black women also are three times more likely to die from the disorder. Tsigas noted that 60% of the maternal deaths caused by preeclampsia are preventable. “These are moms who were in the prime of their lives,” she said. “Behind every one of these numbers was a young, vibrant woman.”

Tsigas also will meet with affected families as she visits several local Promise Walk for Preeclampsia events planned throughout the U.S. this summer, starting with the event in Madison, Wisconsin, on June 4. The events are the foundation’s largest fundraising and awareness initiative. Some of the walks are resuming this year after a hiatus due to COVID-19. Tsigas is excited to see some familiar faces at the events and looks forward to meeting new participants. “Attending and participating in the Promise Walks is a great way of reaching, engaging, and reinvigorating those affected by preeclampsia,” she added.

For years, the Preeclampsia Foundation has funded and/or collaborated with researchers on studies to gain better insight into how to diagnose, treat, and eventually prevent the disorder. The tour will include Tsigas visiting research collaborators in numerous institutions. “These are centers of preeclampsia excellence, and we want to applaud and showcase their innovative and superlative work,” she said.

Daily updates will be posted on the Preeclampsia Foundation’s social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

About the Preeclampsia Foundation

The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000 to improve the outcomes of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy by educating, supporting, and engaging the community, improving healthcare practices, and finding a cure. We envision a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org.

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