NEDA: walking to save lives

Courtesy+of+nedawalk.org

NEDA

Courtesy of nedawalk.org

Angela Donato, Staff Writer

On Feb. 8, in Orlando, FL the first  fundraiser walk of this year was held by The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which is the largest nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to helping and supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders.”

NEDA Walks are community-building fundraiser events where the participants raise money to fund NEDA in their endeavors to provide support to the millions of people that are struggling with an eating disorder, as well as their families. NEDA’s programs and services that are fueled and run by donations include their eating disorder screening tool, online helpline, awareness initiatives, and connections to both treatment and support networks.

The walk began in Cranes Roost Park at 9:45 am. The NEDA set a fundraising goal of $15,000 for the event and ended up raising $11,308. Guest speakers at the event included Riley Resa, a rising singer-songwriter, and  Eliseo Way, an American recording artist and DJ.

The NEDA Walk program was launched in 2009 by the NEDA organization, and in 2017, the program grew to 82 cities and towns with over 18,000 walkers. Currently, this event takes place in over 90 cities nationwide.

As stated on NEDA’s website, “eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.”

The money raised will be used to fund services like the NEDA helpline, which is volunteer-based and runs off of donations. With just an amount of $250 dollars, it will operate the helpline for 2.5 hours, which could reach someone in a critical time and save a life.

Brittany Lahey, a former helpline volunteer wrote, “Through the Helpline, we strive to provide the hope that recovery is possible, the support in figuring out who to talk to and how to go about talking with them, and the guidance in finding treatment options in their area.”

The walks also help support and fund NEDA’s The Feeding Hope Fund for Clinical Research. The goal of this fund is to increase, advance, and provide proper funding to clinical research that is focused on helping circulate clinical treatment and developing new and improved treatment and prevention methods.

NEDA began this research fund due to the severe lack of research funding for eating disorders, despite anorexia nervosa having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

NEDA’s support for those affected by eating disorders also extends itself to a legislative level. Their legislative advocacy centers and aims to raise awareness, education, and programs for improved treatment, perception, and access to care of eating disorders as well as funded research

As stated on NEDA’s website, “since 2013, the National Eating Disorders Association has awarded over $1 million in research grants. NEDA is committed to providing help and hope to those affected by eating disorders.”

The NEDA Walk program has grown in its size, reach, and influence, but the goal of the organization and the walks are still the same. The NEDA walks raise necessary funds to support the many life-saving programs and services that the nonprofit organization provides, but the walks serve another purpose as well.

The NEDA Walks are about community and building one with those affected by an eating disorder, their families, and those who simply want to show support. NEDA’s website says, “NEDA Walks are a celebration of hope and strength, filled with body-positive activities, motivational guest speakers, and a short walk to symbolize unity in the fight against eating disorders.”

To find more information about a NEDA Walk near, just go to their online page here and to find all about the nonprofit itself go here.