Hero Central: Bailey Monarch

6:30 PM, Feb 18, 2011   |    comments
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Tarpon Springs, Florida -- According to the USF Center for Eating Disorders, over 29,000 females and 10,000 males in the Bay area will develop anorexia at some point in their lives.

It's estimated that one out of every one hundred adolescent girls suffer from the disorder.

Bailey Monarch, 17, is a straight-A student from Tarpon Springs who has been into ballet since she was four years old.

"It's really challenging because you have to have really good placement and coordination with the hands, the arms and the feet at the same time," the high school senior said.

In 2009, this vibrant teenager lost 35 percent of her body weight in five months.

"Because I lost such a significant amount of weight, my hair started falling out in clumps. I had a really low blood pressure and heart rate and my right foot was also paralyzed, so I couldn't dance anymore," Monarch said.

She would continue to lose weight and eventually had to be admitted to the hospital.

"I remember one night I was on the Internet researching about anorexia and all the symptoms and I realized these were the same symptoms I had," the 17-year-old said.

After realizing she was suffering from symptoms associated with the eating disorder, Bailey and her mother, Cherie Monarch, started looking for a program to help the teen deal with anorexia. They eventually found an intensive, one-week program in California that uses the Maudsley Approach to focus on both patients and their families.

"There's never been anything so difficult in my life, even my open heart surgery was not as difficult as watching my daughter deteoriate right in front of me," Cherie Monarch said.

After receiving treatment and getting better, Bailey wanted to do something to help others who were suffering from anorexia, so she organized the first ever Tampa Bay National Eating Disorders Association Walk.

"My goal for this walk is to raise awareness about eating disorders because, before I struggled with it, I didn't know that much about it, and I've always wondered if there was something like this, maybe I wouldn't have gone down that path," Bailey said.

The first annual Tampa Bay National Eating Disorders Association Walk will take place Saturday at Al Lopez Park in Tampa. Registration begins at 9 a. m.

If you would like to nominate someone to be a hero, please email me: mbeal@wtsp.com

Melvin Beal, 10 News

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