Local survivor launches Jacksonville’s first Eating Disorders Awareness walk

20 million women, 10 million men will have eating disorder in their lifetime

A local teen is working to fight eating disorders
A local teen is working to fight eating disorders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At least 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. That battle is personal for one local teen, which is why she has launched Jacksonville’s first walk to fight eating disorders.

Anna Kagiliery is now 17 years old but was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 14. When News4Jax visited Kagiliery at her home, she shared photographs revealing the extent of her illness. The photos showed her at freshman homecoming, hanging out with her twin sister, and a typical day getting ready for school. While they paint a portrait of a young woman coming into her own, for Kagiliery, the photos reflect a private battle.

“I was terrified of bread. I let avocado scare me,” Kagiliery said. “All the healthy foods that you think of, I wouldn’t touch. The brown rice, I wouldn’t touch.”

At the height of her battle with anorexia, Anna estimates that at 5 feet, 7 inches tall, she got down to 110 to 115 pounds. She was losing hair and her heart rate was low.

“You see changes happening in your child,” said Aronson Kagiliery, Anna’s mother. “People start complimenting, ‘Oh my God, you’ve gotten so skinny.’ As a parent, you’re going, ‘This isn’t right.'”

Anna tried working through her illness with professionals. In June 2018, the Kagilierys turned to Veritas Collaborative. It offered an 8-week treatment program in Durham, North Carolina. There, she received intense treatment, therapy and a wealth of support.

“I wrote in journals every day,” Anna said. “It was probably four hours of therapy a day. You felt safe because everyone was doing what you were.”

Anna’s battle soon turned to recovery. Today, she is winning her fight. While she continues her journey, Anna’s mission isn’t over. The Kagilierys said they knew the treatment she needed could not be found in Jacksonville. Their hope is by launching a walk with the National Eating Disorder Association, the community will become more involved in helping those who are suffering from eating disorders.

“The NEDA walk was the perfect opportunity to say to our community, ‘We get it,'” Aronson Kagiliery said.

Anna said the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

“The amount of people who have reached out to me saying, ‘I’ve been there. I’m there. I need help’ is -- even if it was just one person, which it’s not -- I feel I can make a difference," Anna said.

The walk is scheduled for Feb. 22 at Riverside Park. The goal is to raise $25,000. To learn how you can donate or participate, click here.

To learn more about Veritas Collaborative, click here.

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