Cullman High School
Noah Fondren, a senior at Cullman High School, grew up with issues related to self-image and self-esteem. He compared himself to his friends, convinced that their popularity, including their ability to play baseball better, was because they were skinny. At the age of 12, Noah began a journey into the world of Anorexia nervosa, commonly called anorexia.
In 2010, Noah made the decision to cut back his food portions. He lost seven pounds in the first week. Noah felt he had discovered an effective means of losing weight. He was certain that he would be a better baseball player because of the weight loss. His belief was shattered, however, when practice for the next season began. Noah could no longer hit the ball. He could not run as fast or throw as hard as he had the previous year. What he did not realize was that his body had begun consuming its own muscles to compensate for lack of ingested nutrients.
When he returned to school, Noah’s schoolmates were shocked at his appearance. While Noah thought he was developing the perfect body, he was perceived as pale and gaunt, with hollow eyes and a thin smile. Teacher Kristin Nunn recalls observing the change. She recalled watching Noah exit class with his friends. “As they turned to leave, I will never forget the look on their faces,” she said, “It was as if to say to me, ‘Help. We know something is not right with Noah.’”
Noah’s parents checked him into Children’s Hospital in Birmingham for treatment. Noah cooperated with the program. His struggles with self-image and self-worth continued, though. Noah credits his faith in God with his survival.
Today, Noah has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Alabama. He has played in three state championships and was named MVP of the state finals series during his sophomore year. He anticipates more accomplishments during his senior year.
“My story is still being written,” Noah said. “I encourage young people to take a look at whatever giants are in their lives. It may be an eating disorder; it may be fear…or it may be that voice in your head saying you’re not good enough…Give it to the Lord. Trust Him, and never look back.”
A courageous person is not one who does not feel fear. A courageous person is one who keeps going despite fear. For such courage, Noah is recognized by his school and our state as one of the 2017 Young Heroes of Alabama.