Meet Caitlyn Bergman, Leader of This Year’s NEDA Walk

This year’s Tallahassee NEDA walk, an eating disorder awareness walk sponsored by the National Eating Disorder Association, took place last Saturday at Cascades Park. The annual walk was organized by FSU alum Caitlyn Bergman. After graduating last May with a degree in Psychology, Bergman acquired a job with Better Living Solutions, LLC as the Community Outreach Associate. In addition, she decided to get involved with the NEDA walk as the leader of the event. I reached out to Caitlyn to learn all about the walk, as well as her contributions and passion for the cause. 

Her Campus (HC): Can you tell me a little bit about what the NEDA walk is? 

Caitlyn Bergman (CB): The National Eating Disorder Association is a non-profit organization that sponsors eating disorder awareness walks around the country. The walks aim to raise awareness not only about eating disorders but about the stigma and stereotypes surrounding them and other mental illnesses. It also intends to raise funds for eating disorder research which is one of the least funded areas of research when it comes to mental illnesses!

HC: What inspired you to participate in this walk and take on the leadership role of organizing the whole walk?

CB: Eating disorder research and recovery is something that I am very passionate about. It's something that I believe has affected everyone in some way, whether it impacted them directly or not. Taking on this endeavor scared me at first, but throughout the process, I have only grown more passionate and inspired by the stories I've heard, and it's motivated me to do everything that I can to help.

HC: What are your responsibilities as the leader of the walk this year? What goes into planning and running this event?

CB: Planning this event has been a whirlwind of emotions! It is definitely a tiring job, but one that is so worth it! Planning this event means collecting prizes for top fundraisers, getting sponsors from the community, planning games and activities for the attendees and so much more. 

HC: What impact do these walks have on society? What do you hope to see as a result?

CB: These walks around the country really do their job in spreading awareness about the real impact eating disorders can have and reducing the stigma surrounding them. The theme of this year's walk is "Come As You Are" and we want our participants to do just that. We want people to come together in support of each other and accept each other for who we are and to learn about what they can do to support their loved ones who may be suffering from an eating disorder.

HC: How can these walks affect individuals who have suffered from or are currently suffering from eating disorders?

CB: These walks are a great way for those suffering to find a support network and to be reminded that there is hope! We have someone who has recovered talk about how she got through her eating disorder. This kind of thing can make recovery a very real concept for those who are feeling like they will never recover. For those who have suffered in the past and are currently in recovery, this can be a very motivating and exciting event! We honor those who are in recovery by giving them a pin that they can wear proudly. Recovery is certainly something to be proud of!

HC: Why is this cause important to you?

CB: This cause is so important to me because it is something that I have seen and known about my whole life. I have personally seen the effects eating disorders can have on someone's life. Growing up and starting college, I never knew exactly how I could help those around me. Working with the NEDA Walk and Better Living Solutions, LLC has provided me with an education that has enabled me to be more aware of the things that are happening around me, which helps me to provide resources to those who need them. I am a big believer in the idea that research also plays a big role in decreasing the number of people that will suffer from eating disorders, so helping to raise $15,000 from Tallahassee community members alone is a very exciting venture for me as well and something that I hope we are able to achieve!

For more information on NEDA, head to https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

All images courtesy of Caitlyn Bergman.