As we approached early adulthood, our close-knit community experienced the devastating loss of two important people, Anna Westin and Jeff Peterson. Each loss was uniquely painful for those who knew and loved them. Anna died from an eating disorder and Jeff, a sudden accident.
Personal connections were crucial in helping us work through the pain of their loss.
We made a pact to get together at least once a year to celebrate, remember, and encourage each other as we moved ahead. And an annual camping trip was born. We called it Frebella, an homage to the nicknames Anna and Jeff would forever be remembered by. And we’ve attended without fail for 18 years.
Their deaths left lasting impact on our community. It taught us that grief and, in turn, mental wellness, is a lifelong journey that affects everyone.
In response to Anna’s death from an eating disorder, her mother, Kitty Westin, went on a mission to change the way society handles eating disorders. She co-founded the D.C.-based Eating Disorders Coalition, the Anna Westin House—a treatment center for people who struggle with eating disorders, and the Anna Westin Foundation, which merged with The Emily Program Foundation in 2008.
These organizations have worked tirelessly to prevent and treat eating disorders, combat stigma, provide support for families, and advocate for legislative change—including the passage of the Anna Westin Act in 2016.
We’ve always wanted Frebella to be something that could change lives for the better and support the efforts of organizations like The Emily Program Foundation. Now that we’re a little older, have some resources (and kids of our own), it’s time to do something bigger than ourselves that celebrates the power of community to heal. Something that can raise money and awareness for a great cause and be a part of the solution.
A shared experience that can draw us out of isolation and into a sense of belonging.
We're excited to bring Frebella to a larger stage, as a festival that brings people together. To remind us of the importance of friendship, family and community. And to let those facing mental health issues and eating disorders know that they’re not alone.