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Walk for Cammy’s Cause at Coolidge Park Sept. 24

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Mary Cameron Robinson Foundation Executive Director Michelle Hays and Jenny Johnston, MCRF director of outreach and educational programs, are busy preparing for the organization’s biggest fundraiser, Walk for Cammy’s Cause. The walk will begin at Coolidge Park Saturday, Sept. 24 at 9:30 a.m. and will benefit educational programs promoting positive body image and eating disorder awareness in area schools. Photo by Emily Crisman

The Mary Cameron Robinson Foundation, an organization dedicated to the prevention of eating disorders and the promotion of a positive body image, will host its sixth annual Walk for Cammy’s Cause Saturday, Sept. 24 at 9:30 a.m.

Founded in 2006, the MCRF is named for Mary Cameron “Cammy” Robinson, who passed away in 2005 at age 26 due to heart complications resulting from her 14-year battle with eating disorders.

“Her friends and family wanted to start a foundation as a way to honor and remember her,” said Jenny Johnston, director of MCRF’s outreach and education programs.

Participants can register online for the three-mile walk. The $30 registration fee includes a T-shirt, drink and fruit. Registration begins at 8 a.m. the day of the event.

Last year more than 250 people participated in the walk, raising more than $35,000, which Johnston said is used for programs offered free of charge to the community by MCRF.

Educational initiatives include the LadyBug Program, which focuses on enhancing self-esteem and seeks to nip negative body image in the bud at a critical point in a child’s development.

“Research shows that third grade is where you need to start,” said Michelle Hayes, who was recently appointed as executive director of MCRF. “That’s when [children] really start to look at their bodies.”

The program, which was offered to more than 2,800 Hamilton County students last school year, compares the body to a plant that needs nutrients to grow, and each child receives their own plant to take care of at the conclusion, said Johnston.

The outreach program for middle and high school students educates participants on how to live a healthy lifestyle without dieting. Eating disorders are discussed along with where to turn for help and resources available in the area, which include a support group and resource library located at the MCRF office.

“There’s a stigma behind eating disorders, and we want people to understand it’s an illness that needs to be treated,” said Johnston. “We want people to be able to say they’ve had an eating disorder and not feel guilty or feel badly about it.”

This fall the foundation is kicking off its TalkAbouts program, which visits the homes of parents who invite family and friends to talk about ways to promote positive body image and discuss the dangers of dieting.

The Mary Cameron Robinson Foundation is at 1400 McCallie Ave., Suite 210, and can be reached at 622-2666. Its annual fundraiser, Walk for Cammy’s Cause, will be held at Coolidge Park Saturday, Sept. 24. Register here.

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