Daily Point of Light # 2461 Jul 11, 2003

Seven years ago, Jennifer Lolley began the battle of a lifetime. As a recovering anorexic and bulimic, she knows firsthand the devastation both physical and mental that occurs not only to the victim, but also to the loved ones of a person suffering with an eating disorder. Eight to ten million Americans battle with an eating disorder. This figure does not include those who are dangerously dieting, have an unhealthy body image or are confused as to society’s idea of an acceptable body.

Standing 5’8″ and weighing only 88 pounds, Lolley was hospitalized three months for anorexia and bulimia nervosa at the age of 16. The battle did not end there. She was hospitalized three more times, entered a four month intensive residential program for eating disorders, and had a feeding tube surgically implanted into her main artery for three months. Her personal battle with eating disorders has given her a desire to publicly speak to others about this epidemic facing our country. Lolley asserts that men and women must be made aware that their worth does not lie in the size or shape of their bodies, but rather in their uniqueness as an individual. Since 1998, she has been unselfishly using her experiences to bring a message of awareness, prevention and hope to all.

On April 11, 2003, Governor Bob Riley signed a proclamation that Lolley wrote declaring April 26th as Eating Disorder Awareness Day in Alabama. She has partnered with ANAD, the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, serving as a support, counsel and resource person to fight against eating disorders and spread awareness. This past spring, she organized an Eating Disorder Awareness Week on the University of Alabama-Birmingham campus. She set up booths to distribute literature, held a fundraiser for ANAD and directed a Candle Light Vigil with guest speakers, entertainment and the theme: “Accept Yourself..Accept Others!”

She developed a presentation on Eating Disorder Awareness and delivers her message to thousands of men and women of all ages. She speaks in churches, schools, college campuses, and support groups across the states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Those with whom she speaks with gain knowledge of the different eating disorders, warning signs, medical facts and complications, different treatment methods, and the ways to prevent the development of an eating disorder. She has printed her own Eating Disorder Awareness pamphlet, has an Eating Disorder Awareness web site and has an Eating Disorder source book library, which contains more than 25 books. Lolley also started a letter campaign encouraging President Bush and states across the country to pass parity bills, which will ensure equal coverage of eating disorders and prevent insurance discrimination. She has also conducted several eating disorder support groups and counseled numerous individuals.

To know that she may have led just one person to make the right choices, to get help or to avoid the battle that nearly took her life is an incredible accomplishment. She is living testimony of an eating disorder survivor. She is answering the cries for help of eating disorder sufferers and delivering an inspirational and educational message of awareness and hope to women and men of all ages.