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For someone who has battled anorexia nervosa since the age of 13, the now 26 year old Brianna (Utz) Portner knows the detrimental effects and living horror that is an eating disorder. Only when she hit rock bottom was she able to finally find her way to true recovery. In what seemed to be an unending battle and a war that she could not win, Portner endured and exhausted the few resources and options of treatment that were available to her – unfortunately only able to find them in the metro area – over two hours away from her hometown. While enduring the many bouts of treatment and countless failed attempts at recovery, she gained a great understanding of the illness and the way it is viewed by much of the general population. Having been told at a young age that she did not have a problem stuck with her, allowing Portner’s eating disorder to go full steam ahead. Over the years, the signs and symptoms were often misread. Her eating disorder was able to trick and manipulate the people who loved her most, consequently almost causing her life to come to an end in October of 2012. It was not until she received the proper care, support, and found the will to fight that Brianna was able to begin true recovery. This was made possible through her finding her faith and the belief her Doctors, family, and friends now saw in her. She could recover. Brianna has obtained a passion for raising awareness around the very illness that took so many years, memories, and happy times away from her. In recovery, the fire inside of her has sparked something – that something being hope. Where there was once none, there is now that sense of hope that recovery is possible and that she does not deserve to live with an eating disorder. It is not something she chose. Realizing that there were not many treatment options near her, nor any therapists or doctors who were properly trained and educated on eating disorders, Brianna sought out to change that. After stumbling across a blurb about Project HEAL, discovering that they shared similar missions, she knew she found the right thing. This was her hope. Where God led her. After contacting the national office in New York, Liana and Kristina, founders of Project HEAL let her get on board and start the Southern Minnesota chapter of Project HEAL. Recovery is possible. While Brianna does not consider herself fully recovered just yet, she has been in true recovery for the past two years. She knows she can do it – and she wants to encourage and help others believe in themselves to, all the while creating more resources for those suffering in the Southern Minnesota and SOON expanding to the Twin Cities metropolitan area.