Metro-East Living

She lost her daughter to an eating disorder. Now she needs your help to save others.

Here’s why one mother created a foundation in memory of her daughter

Nancy Burk talks about her daughter Kelly's struggle with an eating disorder and how Kelly's death led to the creation of the Something for Kelly Foundation, which works to educate and spread awareness regarding eating disorders, especially in sch
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Nancy Burk talks about her daughter Kelly's struggle with an eating disorder and how Kelly's death led to the creation of the Something for Kelly Foundation, which works to educate and spread awareness regarding eating disorders, especially in sch

The pendant that always hangs around Nancy Burk’s neck is an incomplete circle — a symbol created to remember her daughter’s death to anorexia.

Kelly Burk Nobbe died in 2009 at age 26 from complications of her eating disorder, one her family thought she had bested.

“Our circle is no longer complete,” Nancy said.

The Burks and their friends started Something for Kelly, a nonprofit dedicated to educating children and their families to identify and prevent eating disorders.

The Something for Kelly Foundation will have a casino night in an effort to raise money for the cause starting at 6 p.m. Friday — what would have been Kelly’s 34th birthday. The $50 per person cost includes a beer tasting with craft beers from 4204 Main Street Brewing Company, a nacho bar, slider bar and more.

Gaming will be the standard casino games like roulette, poker and blackjack. At the end of the evening, gamblers can turn their winnings into raffle tickets in hopes of winning gift baskets, a stay at a condo in Breckenridge, Colo., golf packages and gift cards for metro-east businesses.

Some of the speakers (at the dinner auctions) were pretty intense; it’s an intense disease.

Nancy Burk, on previous fundraising efforts

“You can spend $50 for a good thing, and walk out with $50 for Papa Vito’s,” Burk said.

This time, Burk said, the foundation wanted to try something interactive and lighthearted.

“Some of the speakers (at the dinner auctions) were pretty intense; it’s an intense disease,” she said.

Something for Kelly’s board of directors hopes to start a speaker’s series with their fundraising, but the members are realistic about what the young organization can do.

“It takes years to build enough money to do what we want to do with it,” said Gale Hoff, of Belleville. Hoff is a childhood friend of Burk’s and is on the foundation’s board.

We’re open to suggestions for where the need is. If we need to change our focus, we’ll go to where the need is.

Nancy Burk

So far, money raised at dinners and silent auctions has largely gone to Dallas where Burk’s sister, Patti Geolat, lives.

Geolat is a jewelry designer, and her team designed the necklaces that will be available at the casino night and later on the website. Incomplete circles are for those whose family member died; complete circles are for those who support someone fighting eating disorders.

Burk said that in Texas, Something for Kelly has concentrated on educating low-income and underprivileged children on healthy eating habits. One person there has taken the lead in working with children at day camps to learn healthy habits, Burk said.

Kelly likely started battling anorexia in high school, her mother said, but her family wasn’t aware of it until she was attending Eastern Illinois University. Her friends later told the Burks that Kelly would not eat when they went out, saying she had already eaten. She also exercised too much, to the point that the university banned her from the gym.

In the metro-east, Burk has done some speaking engagements but, even as a surgical nurse at Memorial Hospital, says she is not an expert on eating disorders. Early on she wasn’t even comfortable speaking in front of others.

“It’s a very complicated disease,” she said, later saying that weight loss is not an early sign of the disease.

The Something for Kelly Foundation is working with the Missouri Eating Disorders Association, which has a program that teaches people how to speak to schoolchildren.

The foundation wants to concentrate on children aged 6 to 12, Burk and Hoff say.

“We’re open to suggestions for where the need is. If we need to change our focus, we’ll go to where the need is,” Burk said.

Something for Kelly Casino Night

Casino night benefits the Something for Kelly Foundation, a nonprofit that hopes to educate children and their families about the dangers of eating disorders.

  • Doors open at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24 with gaming starting at 7:30 p.m.
  • Fountains Conference Center, 319 Fountains Parkway, Fairview Heights
  • Tickets are $50 and include beer tasting, light appetizers and start up play money of $1,500 for gaming of tickets for prizes. Call 618-207-1246 or email rburk@somethingforkelly.org.
  • For more information, go to http://somethingforkelly.org/ or www.facebook.com/somethingforkelly.
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