Walk for a Cause

Gracie Brumsickle – Contributor
National Eating Disorder Awareness Walk

This weekend University of San Diego students, friends, and families came together in a field nearby Liberty Station to help fight against eating disorders. On Saturday morning, Feb. 27, The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) put on their annual walk to raise awareness and money regarding eating disorders.

The walk offered activities such as yoga, tote bag decorating, a photo booth, and surfboard signing. In addition, the event incorporated a number of speakers who have overcome their battle with eating disorders or know someone who is in recovery.

The NEDA website offers insight concerning the effects and statistical data associated with this particular disease.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses,” NEDA website says. “10 million men and 20 million women develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives.”

This is a huge issue in our society and a disease that affects many.

Junior Juliana Curtis participated in the NEDA walk and was thrilled to see all the support from USD students and the local San Diego community.

“I’m so excited to see so many USD students supporting this cause,” Curtis said. “Living in Southern California we often find that image is highly emphasized so this is such a great way to put the emphasis back on inner beauty.”

NEDA walks intend to educate individuals and family members directly affected by the disorder while also fundraising in the battle against it. Not only do they strive to raise money for awareness, but they also want those suffering from the disorder to feel like they are not alone and deserve support.

Many USD students attended to support the cause, in addition to a number of sororities including Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta. The sororities created teams for the walk and helped raise money for the cause.

Junior Claire Faulkner is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and helped organize her sorority’s team.

“I never thought we’d have 29 girls in Kappa Kappa Gamma who’d want to join,” Faulkner said.

Sophomore Alex Boyle is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and enjoyed participating in the walk to create awareness for the prevalent issue in our society.

“I wanted to support a sister with a cause that is dear to her heart and something we have all encountered,” Boyle said.

USD alumni Brooke Miller was a lead player in putting together the walk and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Many people seemed eager to help out a fellow USD graduate and sorority member.

Junior Haley Cwiakala, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, also attended the event, which marked Theta’s participation for the third year in a row.

“We are so excited to come back for another year!” Cwiakala said. “Almost our whole chapter is here to support Brooke. I personally love all the support at this walk.”

All of the sororities that participated were happy to be a part of a positive event and encourage support for an issue so prevalent in our society, particularly among young women and men.

The walk brought a lot of laughter, positive energy, and smiling as each person checked in. Participants browsed the different activities set up and enjoyed the photo booth, posing with funny props with friends. However, the mood became more serious as a man stepped up to the microphone to tell his story.

According to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration, people often attribute eating disorders to an unhealthy and thin figure however this is often not the case. Those who may be struggling but might not look like the stereotype, and often don’t seek help because society tells them they are a normal size.

However, eating disorders are a mental illness. One speaker at the event mentioned that she was initially unable to overcome the disease and start her recovery until showing herself compassion.

“I am worthy of recovery, getting help, and being loved,” one of the speakers said.

She stressed that it took her years to realize this, but now it has changed her life and that everyone is worthy of the same.

As the speeches came to a close, the walk began. Everyone walked together with their friends and family or fellow sorority members. Participants passed out signs with eating disorder facts as well as positive body image messages. Everyone cheered each other on and walked in unity to the finish line.

Eating disorders are a potentially life-threatening illness, but the important thing to remember is that they are treatable. The NEDA walk was created to raise awareness and to let people know they are not alone. Their website includes many helpful resources and tips for treatment and why fundraising is so crucial.

“All proceeds support critical programs and services that work to eliminate eating disorders and improve prevention, treatment, and research,” the NEDA website says.

Everyone has the potential to be affected, but everyone can receive help. In fact, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week was Feb. 21-27 and the theme this year was “3 Minutes Can Save a Life.”

The goal is to focus on early intervention by having people take a 3-minute screening. Many people don’t even realize they are affected or that they have a negative body image perception, so early intervention can make a critical difference in the ability to seek immediate help when in need of recovery.

The walk emphasized how important it is to not be afraid to ask for help, no matter your gender, age, race, or upbringing. Everyone deserves help.

In Southern California specifically, body image can be a tough issue. Image is highly emphasized and having the perfect beach body dominates media and conversations especially on college campuses. Understandably, negative self talk can easily creep into people’s daily life and events such as NEDA offer hope for eliminating these negative internal thoughts.

The NEDA walk helped people refocus on what is truly important in life, including what is on the inside, friends and family, fundraising for an important cause, and creating community support.

Toreros and others gathered together to help fight a cause that affects so many, including the USD community. It was a day to take a step toward recovery, to help support a peer, friend or family member, and to remember how important it is to love yourself.