Fundraiser to benefit those afflicted with eating disorders 

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When Joehdi Kyle was 31 years old, a gust of wind blew her over in a parking lot. She was so frail that she broke a hip.

But when Joehdi arrived at the hospital, doctors weren’t most concerned about her injury. Her electrolytes and other health indicators were so poor they had to focus on keeping her heart from failing.

Joehdi had anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that is the most deadly mental disorder in the country, more so than depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

She succumbed to the disease in 2012, at age 33.

Joehdi’s mother, Julie Walker, has since made it her mission to teach Oklahomans about how serious and pernicious eating disorders can be.

“People won’t talk about it. I’m not sure why,” Walker said. “If you start talking about it, many times people know someone who’s been affected. It touches a lot of people, but they don’t realize what a horrible disease it is.”

Walker said her daughter’s problems began on a routine doctor’s visit a year after she gave birth to her son. Joehdi noticed that her medical chart classified her as “obese” and was horrified.

She immediately began the then-fashionable South Beach Diet. Phase One of the diet, the most restrictive, was supposed to last two weeks, but Joehdi never moved past it. She weighed about 80 pounds when she died, her mother said.

For years, Walker couldn’t find the support she needed for her daughter. That’s why she’s now a board member of the Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association (OEDA). The organization works to raise awareness of and provide resources for people with eating disorders and their families.

About 20 million women and 10 million men nationwide are diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their life.

“Eating disorders don’t discriminate between age or race or income. It’s prevalent everywhere. And it’s being diagnosed more and more in males, which you haven’t traditionally heard about,” said OEDA Executive Director Victoria Renard.

That’s one of the reasons the headliner at this year’s Conversations of Hope fundraising dinner is Brian Cuban, author of Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

The dinner is free, but reservations are required and a $30 donation is suggested. Renard said the event is a chance to bring friends and family together to inspire recovery.

Renard considers herself an OEDA success story. She kept her own disorder a secret during high school, but in college, things got out of control. When she heard a talk by a visiting OEDA speaker, the remarks hit home.

“That day, I realized I needed help,” Renard said.

With “counseling and a lot of prayer,” she went into recovery.

Print Headline: Inspiring confidence, Conversations of Hope raises funds for those afflicted with eating disorders.

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Kelly MacNeil

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