Cortland resident organizes walk to raise awareness of pregnancy disorder

Photos provided by Deanne Walker.

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A group of local residents took part in a virtual walk Saturday to raise awareness of a disorder that affects millions of women every year.

The volunteer-run Promise Walk event was organized to promote awareness of Preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder that can occur during pregnancy or during the postpartum period. Similar events occur in cities across the country during the month of May to benefit the nonprofit Preeclampsia Foundation.

Left untreated, Preeclampsia can lead to fatal complications for both the mother and the baby, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Deanne Walker, of Cortland, said she decided to organize a walk in Cortland after the foundation decided to discontinue its Syracuse event.

“Since my daughter was little, we’ve done this walk in Syracuse,” says Walker, who has had personal experience with the pregnancy complication.

About nine days after Walker gave birth to her daughter, Heaven, she went to bed with a migraine. Awoken at 4 a.m. by the cries of her newborn daughter, Walker found herself unable to see out of both of her eyes. Her husband called 911.

While at the hospital, Walker suffered from three seizures, high blood pressure, and brain bleeding, but managed to pull through the event.

“If my daughter had not cried, I would not be here,” Walker said, who still suffers from chronic migraines.

Had she been more informed about the dangers of Preeclampsia, she says she may have been able to get help sooner. Her 8-year-old daughter, Heaven, helps her promote awareness of the disorder.

“My daughter is very proud of doing the promise walk. She’s my hero, she saved me,” Walker said. “And she’s the first one to tell anybody who will listen about it.”