On a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon last month, 250 people laced up their sneakers and headed to the University of Connecticut campus in West Hartford to participate in the first National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) walk in Connecticut.

Some people were walking for family members, others were walking for friends and many were walking for their clients, but everyone was walking to raise eating disorders awareness.

“I’ve been in this field for over 30 years and we haven’t had something like this here in Connecticut. The number of people here today is gratifying, said Margo Maine, Ph.D., cofounder of Maine and Weinstein Specialty Group and a founding member of NEDA.

While the NEDA volunteers who organized the event where only expecting 100 people to register for the walk, they were overwhelmed when more than 250 people showed up and over $30,000 was raised.  Many walkers hoped that the success of the event would be a catalyst for more awareness of eating disorders in the community.

“I hope this event will bring more statewide attention to eating disorders,” said Justin Sceli, a social worker in CT.  “There are not enough programs to treat eating disorders and holding awareness events like this will help people, like my clients, get more help.”

Some walkers hoped that organizing eating disorder awareness events will help the public begin to see how serious eating disorders are and as a result they will give more money toward researching the illness. “We have six times as many people with eating disorders than Alzheimer, but funding for eating disorders is only 1/16 of that of funding for Alzheimer, said Mary Curran, the NEDA board member who organized the walk and a mother of a daughter with an eating disorder. “People are dying from eating disorders every day and NEDA walks like this can raise money for research to stop this debilitating  disease and save lives.”

In addition to the funds raised by walkers, several eating disorder treatment facilities including Walden Behavioral Care sponsored the event. “It is great that we could be here to support NEDA’s first walk in Connecticut,” said Jessica Jacobs, Marketing and Communications Associate at Walden Behavioral Care’s South Windsor, CT clinic. “There’s a real lack of understanding around eating disorders among the general population and events like this one emphasis how important it is to seek help if you are suffering.”

The event speakers included Mary Curran, a NEDA board member and organizer of the walk, Margo Maine, cofounder of the Maine and Weinstein Specialty Group and a clinical psychologist who has specialized in eating disorders and related issues for nearly 30 years and Kim Ryan, a University of Connecticut senior and eating disorder survivor.

To view pictures and videos from the walk check out the Walden Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WaldenBehavioralCare and to find out more about NEDA and the work they are doing visit: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.