It’s Not Every Day That A Guy Gets An E-mail From Miss America

There have been many humbling events associated with the writing of my book, but the e-mail I received late yesterday afternoon, as I sat down to a quiet dinner with my daughter, certainly is at or near the top of the list.  Several weeks ago, I reached out to Kirsten Haglund and asked if she would consider reading my manuscript and, if she felt so compelled, offer a few words endorsing its message of hope.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kirsten’s story, she was crowned Miss America in 2008 at the age of 19 – the youngest woman to win that crown since 1994.  To her substantial credit, Kirsten immediately and courageously pledged to dedicate her reign to increasing awareness of issues relating to eating disorders and body image issues – a platform founded on her own now highly-publicized struggles with anorexia nervosa that began when she was 12 years old.  Her tireless advocacy for those causes has since included, among many other things: (1) founding the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, whose mission is to provide hope, networking and financial aid to those seeking treatment and freedom from eating disorders; (2) lobbying with the Eating Disorders Coalition for Mental Health Parity and the FREED Bill; (3) giving countless speeches and interviews on the subject; and (4) serving as a Community Relations Specialist for the Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Centers.  As if all of that were not enough to keep 3 people busy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which it is, my request for Kirsten’s time came in the midst of her also working to complete her degree in Political Science at Emory University and planning her recent wedding.  Suffice it to say, Kirsten had every reason not to make time for me – a complete stranger – and my book. I certainly would have understood. But somehow, she found the time . . . and, yesterday, I received this note:

Hey Don . . . here is a quote for your book. It was a joy to read. :)!

Dear Ashley is incredibly poignant and candid. I only hope that more parents will be encouraged by Don’s openness to share their own experiences, struggles, and triumphs, and thereby help their loved ones on their healing journeys. If you know a Dad who is searching for the meaning in his daughter’s struggle with an eating disorder, hand him this book!


Thank you, Kirsten, for your kind and affirming words and for all you do (and have done) to bring hope and healing to others.  Don

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