• Shannon Brault

WithAll Gold Medal Gala

About a month ago I was asking friends, family and teammates if they would be willing to go to Washington D.C. with me on May 7th for the Eating Disorder Coalition Day at the U.S. Capital. I wanted to go so badly, but my mom said I was unable to attend it by myself considering I had never traveled alone before and it was so close to finals time. I was really upset when no one was able to go and I missed the deadline to sign up, but after some thinking, soul searching and after being asked if there was anything I could do around the cities that would act in its place, I remembered how I was signed up to volunteer at the WithAll Gold Medal Gala. As some of you may know, and most of you probably do not know, I am a volunteer with an amazing organization called WithAll that works effortlessly to support those living with eating disorders and to help prevent eating disorders from happening in the future. They host a Gala every year, which is their biggest fundraiser and the money raised goes directly to efforts of prevention and grants to help support those in treatment for an eating disorder. This year it was the Gold Medal Gala with special guest Jessie Diggins (So you know I signed up to volunteer right away). I was extremely nervous going into the event because I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know any of the volunteers or people there personally and I didn’t know how much of the program I would actually be participating in. It was a new environment and it was a little intimidating for me, but after that initial hurdle it was so awesome. I worked up a little nerve to talk to Jessie Diggins and after my star-stuck first encounter I was able to personally thank her for all that she has done in my life and thank her for inspiring me to go back to the Emily Program to get my own help. There were so many amazing people with such inspiring stories and I found myself wiping away some tears throughout the program. I have been having a bit of a rough time lately and have had many occasions where I have felt pretty alone, but the Gala was such an awesome reminder that we are not alone in this world. Standing in a room with 200+ other people who not only care about your story and everyone else’s story, but they care about changing the story for people they do not even know and making sure the suffering brought upon those living with eating disorders is never felt again. They are fighting everyday to help the world to see a day without eating disorders. It brings tears to my eyes and overwhelms me beyond belief. I don’t know any of these people personally and yet it fills my soul with such hope for not only my future and the future of all those suffering with eating disorders, but for the future where kindergartners aren’t counting calories and saying that eating over 100 is bad, for the world where third grading aren’t telling each other about dieting and when fifth graders aren’t telling each other not to eat lunch anymore. What we say matters. It matters. It matters more than anything else. We can do something now. We can change how we act and how we speak around food and body. WithAll just launched an amazing initiative called the What to Say initiative. This initiative focuses on the ways adults speak to kids about food and body. They are working with youth sports coaches now to change our own ways in an effort to prevent eating disorders. Thanks to the kind donations, WithAll has also been able to give out grants to individuals who need help paying for living expenses while seeking treatment for an eating disorder. They give out these grants so patients can pay for their rent, groceries, gas and other living expenses to help alleviate that financial burden as some treatment plans can be quite intensive, expensive and time consuming.

The Gala introduced me to so many amazing people and gave me so much hope for the future. It is so crazy what we all can do when we stand together for a common cause. I am so very thankful for everyone who attended the Gala and even though I was just a volunteer, I was personally touched and felt as if everyone in that room was on my team and in my corner.

As it was said during the program ¨Nothing worthwhile happens alone¨, and that could never be more true. WithAll is a clear example of how we are stronger together. Together we can change the world. Together we can accomplish amazing things. Together we can end eating disorders. Together we are stronger. It is so incredible to be surrounded by so many people who are so touched by the cause because their life in one way or another has been affected by an eating disorder. It is so incredible to know that there are people out there fighting for everyone, so that we can see a better tomorrow. I am so thankful that I was able to volunteer at this amazing event, and I hope you will check out the What to Say initiative, as I believe we all will benefit from it. You can check it out at:

Just remember we are stronger with all of us and what you say and do matters. I hope you join this effort to end eating disorder, and if you do not I hope you join an effort that you care about. No worthwhile thing happens alone, and I hope you can find your worthwhile thing. Shannon


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