MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At the Mall of America this Sunday, hundreds will take part in a walk to raise money and awareness for the National Eating Disorders Association or NEDA.
One of those walking will be 14-year-old Addie Gleekel who, for the past four years, has battled anorexia.
Addie is still recovering from the illness, but wanted to share her story to help other teens and families.
Addie’s mother Beth is actually the co-chair of the walk, as is her older brother, Ben.
She’s a straight-A student at Breck School in Golden Valley, where she plays soccer, is on the JV hockey team, and has a large group of friends
And for four years, this girl who has so much going for her, has battled anorexia nervosa.
“When I was in fourth grade, I was kind of overweight and one of the tallest kids in the class,” she said. “And some kids were telling me I wasn’t skinny and I was kind of big.”
One child even called her Fatty Addie.
“So I started not eating at lunch — at first it was salads and apples and then it became nothing,” she said.
At first there were compliments.
“That is why I stopped eating,” she said. “I wanted to keep getting compliments and getting smaller.”
Addie has been hospitalized three times. But it was her last stay this summer at Children’s Hospital that she and her family believes was a breakthrough.
“I told my therapist it feels really good to feel better about yourself even if you are not fully recovered,” she said.
Her parents used to have to come to school to watch to make sure she ate lunch.
“It spirals out of control so fast,” Beth said.
Beth credits Children’s Hospital and staff at Breck for helping Addie recover.
“There is a lot shame and guilt around eating disorders and we are trying to bring it out in a healthy way, and not hide in the shadows,” Beth said.
Addie just hopes her story can make a difference.
“I want to help a lot of people with eating disorders,” she said. “And I hope this will help the situation. I think the walk is really inspirational and it’s really fun.”