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NEDA walk

Annie Martin holds signs with the Concordia cross country team, who volunteered at Sunday's NEDA walk. 

Katie Brock has first-hand experience with what it's like to struggle with an eating disorder.

In 2017 she sought help from Hope Healthcare, which guided her through the recovery process, and now she's on a mission to tell others about the help that's available to them.

So for the second straight year Brock spoke about her experiences at the National Eating Disorders Association walk, which was Sunday at Holmes Lake. 

"I was asked to speak at the walk last year and it was the first time I took a public stance on my eating disorder," Brock said at the walk hosted by NEDA and Hope Healthcare. "It was really cathartic for me because I realized I'm not the only one who has struggled and I want to be able to help those currently struggling."

Brock now runs a mental health advocacy blog, On Solid Brock, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student in clinical mental health counseling at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to help others with eating disorders.

The walk wasn't limited to those personally struggling with eating disorders, though. Friends and family also showed up to offer support.

Erin Sullivan, a dietitian at Hope Healthcare, coordinated the half-mile walk for the third year.

According to Sullivan, the purpose of the walk is to educate people on what NEDA is, to provide resources for those struggling with eating disorders and help others understand what eating disorders are like.

Activities like a pinata smash, making succulents and writing letters to help during recovery cultivated a sense of community during the event.

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There were 300 people registered and $10,000 raised before the walk.

Sullivan said the event is important so those suffering with eating disorders don't feel alone.

"It is kind of a taboo topic to talk about and instead of thinking like that, we want people to celebrate how far they have come on their journey to recovery," Sullivan said.

Ann Leever of Omaha participated in the walk to support her daughter, who has recovered from anorexia.

"A lot of people with eating disorders feel ashamed and like it's their fault," Leever said. "I'm here to help them realize it's just like any other disease like cancer or diabetes and to help raise awareness."

Leever's daughter, Jessica, was also participating in the walk. A junior elementary education major at UNL, she has been treated in outpatient facilities in Omaha and Tulsa, Oklahoma for the disorder. 

She said she wanted to participate in the walk for herself and others to prove that it is possible to get over eating disorders.

"I struggled for a long time to accept that it doesn't define me and is only a part of my life, not my whole life," she said. "Events like this have helped me accept my story."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or sbernt@journalstar.com

On Twitter @BerntSamantha

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