National Eating Disorders Association

Stepping Out of the Shadows and Into the Mall of America

Caitlin Hamilton

Addie Gleekel

Many people don’t realize that eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses that can develop swiftly and uncontrollably, but the Gleekel family is working to change that. Together, they organized the Twin Cities NEDA Walk, and this Sunday, the Gleekel family will rally around the cause with hundreds of others at the Mall of America.

14 year-old Addie Gleekel has been hospitalized three times for anorexia, which she has been battling for four years. Signs of her eating disorder started in childhood when she stopped eating in response to being bullied about her weight. From there, Addie’s illness developed quickly. “It spirals out of control so fast,” says Beth, Addie’s mother and co-chair of the walk. “There is a lot of 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 is now a straight-A student and talented athlete with lots of friends, but her struggle isn’t over. Addie doesn’t see herself as fully recovered but she hopes that 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.”