Saturday, December 29, 2012

Don't Throw Up, Throw Down! Ronda Rousey Fights Eating Disorders

Here is how my parking in Ronda's garage led to raising funds for the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Clinic....

Her friend, Marina, was moving to LA from New York and had her boxes shipped to my house, since they were driving across country and no one was home at the new place in Venice. When I dropped the boxes off, Marina and I walked to the beach for coffee. That's when Ronda came back, found my van in her garage and had a bit of a panic attack, going off about how she couldn't park her new BMW on the street and how hard it is to find parking by the beach. In my usual sympathetic manner, I said,

Check yourself! Your biggest problem is that you temporarily can't park your $130,000 car that the UFC gave you in the garage at your house on the beach. You do realize that some people have real problems, don't you? Take one minute to think outside of yourself. You have some money and a bit of celebrity now. Is there any group of people you feel strongly about helping?

Instantly, Ronda answered,

Eating disorders. People with eating disorders. No one is doing anything for them. 

Her friend, Wetzel said,

Well, there has to be somebody. Let's think of a celebrity with an eating disorder.

I said,

There was Karen Carpenter, but she died - of anorexia

In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The cost of treatment is high and often not covered by insurance. Despite that, you don't see a lot of discussion or fund-raising. It's not an illness that has adorable babies tugging at your heart strings and pocketbook. Eating disorders are much higher among elite athletes than in the general population, and much higher among athletes in judged sports (like gymnastics) and sports that have weight categories (like wrestling and judo).

Wanting to find a credible organization, I contacted one of the staff members for the Didi Hirsch clinic, who happens to have lived on the same street as us since we moved to Santa Monica in 1997. She told us how hard it is to find the funds to give the therapy needed by teenagers (and even some younger kids) with eating disorders.

SO ..... Ronda decided to start the Ronda Rousey Fund. Any money raised between now and March, she'll match with a check of her own, up to a total of $5,000. One way to make sure that at least $5,000 gets raised is that she'll be doing a clinic shortly after her fight.  The facility will be donated as will Ronda's time. All the money from the clinic will be donated to the Didi Hirsch fund for youth with eating disorders. This is only the second clinic Ronda will have done since she started MMA and there are not any plans for her to do another one any time soon. It will be in Los Angeles. I'm pretty sure I know where it is going to be held but since it is 1:30 a.m. in LA and I am out of town, I'm not going to call Ronda now and ask her. I don't really know a lot of the details, but I will post them here as they get hammered out in the next few days. I think the clinic will be limited to 50 people or less and the cost will be $100 or more. I also expect a few spaces will be raffled off.

If you can't make it to the clinic but want to help, you can send a check with the note "Don't throw up, throw down" to

Joel Safranek
Vice President, Development
4760 Sepulveda Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90230

You can also donate online here. In the menu where it says "I am giving in response to" pick OTHER and type Ronda Rousey Fund in the box below it.

If you don't have any money but would like to help another charity, there is also the free rice group, you can join and donate rice. I'd think a good prize for the top donor could be a space at the clinic - but I don't know so don't count on that. It definitely would not be transferable.

As I said, details are being hammered out now - just thought it was interesting and I would post a heads up. Anyone with fundraising suggestions, please chime in.


Anonymous said...

Good for Ronda, that is great! But I have a suggestion... throwing up is only one of many eating disorder problems, it seems like the slogan "don't throw up, throw down" is a bit naive and could reinforce the stigma/stereotypes of eating disorders. i love the idea and the slogan is creative, but i wonder if something a bit less like a caricature would be better. "throw down for eating disorders"?

Dr. AnnMaria said...

You got me. I am so far from cool you cannot even see cool from here. Ronda is very much a "call 'em as I see 'em" type of person. I would guess that part of the reason that eating disorders don't get more funding is that people don't want to talk about the less aesthetic aspects.

As a former competitor, I can tell you that LOTS of throwing up goes on in sports that have weight categories.

Will being very straightforward reinforce stereotypes or might it have people more likely to face facts and say, this happens often and for some people it is a huge problem?

It's not a rhetorical question. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

How about instead of a place at the event the top donor of the free rice event on top of getting an autograph could take part in deciding what the next charitable event could be?

perhaps you, ronda, and the winner could sit down in skype and talk about it for a few one day.

that would be interesting.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

That would be interesting, you're right.

Anonymous said...

I love to see this - thank you, Ronda, for shining some light on a subject that quit being "cool" to be concerned about many years ago.
I would also like to mention, as an adult with a life-long eating disorder and no health insurance, that youngsters aren't the only people who lack treatment options.
This is certainly a start though, and one that I am thrilled to see. Despite what many people think, it really isn't as easy as "just eat something" or "don't stick your finger down your throat" or even "stop when you're full". I'd encourage anyone who thinks that an ED is just a cry for attention to do a little research into how starvation, purging and overeating actually change one's biology in a manner similar to drug addiction. Ignorance only perpetuates the problem.

aglee said...

I'm looking at the online form. Under "I would like my
donation to go towards", do I need to say "Eating disorders", or is it enough to say "Ronda Rousey Fund" below?

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Ronda Rousey Fund would be preferable but I'm sure if you say eating disorders it will be fine since it is the only fund they will have for eating disorders specifically - hence the need

aglee said...

Thanks. Actually I ended up writing a check since I had my checkbook out anyway. It's "in the mail", as they say.

Joshua Sealock said...

@Dr. Ann,

You're an amazing mother!

I might not know what it's like to have an eating disorder, however I do have Panic Disorder with agoraphobia. I know that it's extremely hard to deal with any disorder, esp one that prevents you from eating or leaving home.

<3 InvincibleDK

traderez said...

Few groups know more about
this disorder than thoroughbred
jockeys.They have developed
methods to combat it the
hard way. The foundation
should use this source.
No better place to start
than Santa Anita & Golden Gate
in Ncal to get excellent
long term info.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Thanks for the suggestion about the jockeys. That makes a lot of sense, and I will pass it along.

traderez said...

Your welcome
I'm sure they
will welcome Ronda
warmly . If you need
an "IN" contact me.

Anonymous said...

Its kind of ironic that UFC fighters drop a huge and unhealthy amount of weight to make a weight-in and then add 10-20% of their bodyweight for the next day.

Having athletes starve themselves for a competition is wrong on so many levels but its considered 'normal'.

I guess bodybuilders might consider this normal but cant think of a track, soccer, volleyball, etc coach who'd be thrilled if theyre athlete did that in their sport.