Kaylin Ohler started dieting in fourth grade. When she was 11, doctors diagnosed her with anorexia.
Today, the 23-year-old works at Children's Hospital eating disorder program in Omaha, is two years healthy and will mark the occasion by giving back. Ohler organized Walk to Save a Life, a fundraiser to increase awareness about eating disorders. The noncompetitive walk is at Miller's Landing Park in Omaha on August 4.
The proceeds will benefit the National Eating Disorders Assosciation and the Kristen Haglund Foundation, a nonprofit that awards scholarships to those who cannot afford treatment. Ohler said most month-long programs cost $30,000, and she hopes to raise $15,000.
The foundation paid for Ohler's treatment in 2010. Her struggle started at an age when most kids are busy playing house and learning to color inside the lines. As a kindergartener, she was already busy comparing herself to the other girls in her class. When she was in fourth grade, Ohler's school taught students about nutrition and eating well. She didn't learn to eat well, though. She learned to diet because, in her mind, “being overweight and being bigger was undesirable and unacceptable.”
So she got smaller. By the time she was in sixth grade, she had lost almost 20 pounds. Ohler continued to struggle for years, yo-yo-ing in and out of day treatment.
Weighing less than 100 pounds – and about 30 pounds underweight – she was so malnourished she was medically unstable.
“I was on the verge of not being alive,” she said.
But she couldn't afford the long-term professional help she needed. She applied for a scholarship from the Kristen Haglund Foundation, which paid for a three-month program at a center in California.
Ohler said she has recovered but considers herself in a constant state of recovery so she doesn't relapse.
She said support from her family and friends and her faith in God keeps her strong.
“The biggest thing is to not give up...decide that you're worth it,” she said.
She organized the Walk to Save a Life to help others, like her, who struggled or continue to battle an eating disorder. They're worth it, she says.
Register at the event. To sign up online or donate, click here.