TCU alumna organizes eating disorder walk

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The non-competitive mile walk was organized by TCU alumna Lauren-Ashton Shepheard, who wants to help people with eating disorders in Tarrant County to find resources they need.
Shepheard said she had an eating disorder, athletic anorexia, during some of her time at TCU.
“Unfortunately, there was not a lot of support when I tried to find help.” the Fort Worth native said. “I am fortunate and thankful to say I have been recovered for two and a half years now.”
“This is my way of trying to make sure no one else has to feel the way I did when I needed help and had a hard time finding it,” she said.
Proceeds from the walk will benefit the National Eating Disorders Association and The Elisa Project.
Shepheard found the NEDA after she graduated from TCU through doing research about eating disorders and learning how she could volunteer on the issue.
Based in New York City, NEDA is a non-profit that aims to support those affected by eating disorders and their families.
They campaign for “prevention, improved access to quality treatment, and increased research funding to better understand and treat eating disorders,” according to NEDA’s website.
According to NEDA, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.
“The treatment cost of an eating disorder in the US ranges from $500 to $2,000 a day,” according to their website.
Proceeds will also go to the The Elisa Project, which also focuses on prevention and public awareness of eating disorders.
The organization was formed in honor of Elisa McCall, a college student who committed suicide after suffering from an eating disorder and depression. She had recorded in her diary that she wanted to help people who were suffering from what she was.
Shepheard said she wanted to make sure that The Elisa Project was included so funds from the walk could stay in Fort Worth.
“It was very important to me to see an impact here in the community as well as what I could do nationally,” she said.
Some proceeds given to The Elisa Project from the walk will go towards Tarrant County schools to support students who struggle with these disorders.
NEDA has exceeded their Fort Worth goal of $10,000. Their leading sponsors include McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers, Children’s Health Medical Center, Laureate Eating Disorders Program, PMG, Capital Grille, Juice Junkies and Vanity Room.
Other ‘in-kind contributions’ have come from Summits Hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga and Sinaca Studios.
The opening ceremony will begin at 9:15 a.m. and will start the walk off with a yoga session and motivational speakers, including Fort Worth television producer and host Janeé Hill.
Hill said she also struggled from an eating disorder earlier in her life.
“There is hope of walking in freedom from eating disorders, and if you are struggling, there is a community of support and resources available,” she said.
Once they cross the finish line, walk participants can listen to music provided by a DJ and join in activities such as games and face painting.
Organizers of the Fort Worth NEDA Walk are hoping it can become an annual event.
“Through awareness and education, I believe we can make a difference in so many lives with the prevention and effective treatment of eating disorders,” Shepheard said. “If there’s hope, then we’ve achieved our goal.”
Libby Vincek is a public affairs reporter for The 109. Email her at e.k.vincek@tcu.edu.