Recently I had the pleasure to speak with Emily Pilgrim, the executive administrator of the Eating Disorder Foundation of Denver, to discuss the upcoming National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Walk they are organizing this year. No eating disorder awareness organization has yet to put on a walk in Denver, so this will be the first of its kind, but hopefully not the last.
The Eating Disorder Foundation, a non-profit that provides educational and support services to those suffering from eating disorders and their loved ones, has already surpassed their goal of raising at least $5,000 through participants registering for the walk as well as donations. The event is scheduled for October, 13 at 8:30 am and more information to donate or participate can be found on NEDA’s website.
303 Magazine: Congratulations on reaching your goal– did you think you would be able to do it? Do you now have a secondary goal?
Emily Pilgrim: We were hopeful definitely. Denver is a great community as far as eating disorder support goes; there are some wonderful treatment centers here. The Eating Recovery Center is sponsoring at a “friend” level and The Eating Disorder Center of Denver is sponsoring at an “ally” level. I think we were certainly hopeful that we would be able to meet our goal, we are just excited to see that we’ve met that first level and anything beyond that is amazing and wonderful. (As of this article’s publishing, the foundation has raised $6,020).
What does the money go towards?
We are able to split it with NEDA, so the Eating Disorder Foundation gets to keep a portion.
Could you give me a little bit of your background regarding your involvement with the Eating Disorder Foundation? What inspired you to work for them?
I struggled with my own eating disorder and went into treatment when I was 12. I struggled for several years and am now blessed to be in recovery for 12 years now. I started as an intern with the Eating Disorder Foundation in 2009 when I was getting my undergrad in psychology and they brought me on in 2012 as the executive administrator.
What sort of services does the Eating Disorder Foundation provide?
We have eight free support groups every week and a few different monthly groups. We offer yoga, art workshops, journaling workshops, and we have a cooking class coming up in November. We like to have activities for people to come and get the support they need and we like to show that life after an eating disorder is possible by always supporting the idea of recovery and all the things that open up in your life. (For a schedule of events, check here).
This is the first ever NEDA Walk in Denver, so what inspired the Eating Disorder Foundation to get involved?
There hasn’t been another NEDA walk at all in Denver put on by us or any other organization. The walk coincides with NEDA’s annual conference– it falls on the same weekend, so we thought it would be fun to offer the walk here to people that couldn’t attend the conference and the lobby day in Washington (DC), and also to have fun in the community and raise awareness for eating disorders.
So the response you’ve had is strong?
Yes, we are hoping to see even more of our community members and others around the Denver area join. There will be a few info tables and it’s going to be a really fun day. It’s in city park so we start checking in around 8:30. We’ll start the walk at 9, and it’s a walk around the lake there. We’ll start at the pavilion and we’ll have music. We would love to see as many people as we can out the day of the walk.
I’m not sure if this is relevant, but how long is the walk?
Oh, it’s very relevant! NEDA requests that walks be a mile or under, since over-exercising can be a problem for some suffering from eating disorders. Our walk loops around the lake and is just under 9/10ths of a mile.
How can our readers get involved with the walk?
They can go on the NEDA website and there’s an area where you can find the walk and either participate or make a donation.
Do you think you’ll do it again next year?
It’s possible, we’ll have to see how this first one goes and it certainly wouldn’t be off the table if everyone enjoys themselves. We also have a gala coming up that we have been organizing as one of our annual events. [The gala] is our largest fundraiser and it will be in February to coincide with NEDA week. The fundraising we do supports the foundation and the services we offer.
The Eating Disorder Foundation is located at 1901 E. 20th Ave and can be contacted at (303) 322-3373. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Early detection and treatment increases the chance of a full recovery.
Elle Groves is a freelance reporter, writer and blogger bent on deconstructing diet culture and keeping her life full of food, fitness, family and friends. She is currently writing a novel that spans the rise and fall of a girl’s struggle with eating disorders and her DIY-recovery. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ellegrows.