Give Emerson His Life Back

Give Emerson his life back:

Emerson's life now is consumed with severe anorexia, OCD, and depression, and he is getting worse. Your support is desperately needed. Give Emerson his life back.


[UPDATE July 31:] See "updates" for the latest: Emerson is getting the treatment he needs thanks to you.]

URGENT UPDATE APRIL 6: We have had to raise the goal for Emerson's campaign from $20,000 to $30,000 to allow Emerson another month of treatment, because, unfortunately, his condition has recently taken a turn for the worse.

He has been bravely fighting compulsion after compulsion, but today his mother, Suzanne, reported "Emerson has been stuck pretty much all the time these last few days. Last night apparently he got stuck in a compulsion as he fell asleep and I was awakened by him screaming at about 1:00 am, which was incredibly frightening. Then today we went to the psychiatrist and he got stuck in her office, security had to come and remove him from her office.... Everything feels pretty impossible; things are very tough." The initial goal was based on an average length of stay at the facility, Rogers, Emerson will go to; it is clear now he will have to stay longer (He is still on their wait list). His care coordinator here, who knows him well, said today that in her best judgment, Emerson will need a full three months.]


Emerson is in crisis, and his mom, Suzanne Barker, needs your help.  After two years of fighting the vicious 1-2-punch of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and severe anorexia nervosa, after the best that local hospitals and doctors—from The Lindner Center to Children’s Hospital—were able to provide, including almost four months of in-patient care, Emerson is losing ground. He was a healthy, normal, awesome kid. Now he is battling OCD, anorexia, and severe depression. His doctors say OCD and anorexia together is extremely difficult to fight. It's so difficult he’s recently been rejected by four treatment centers, who said they would be unable to care for him.  

His mom has found a place for him, Rogers Behavioral Health Center, in Wisconsin, that specializes in treating both illnesses at once, and they’ve accepted Emerson. His doctors recommend it highly.

But cost is $1,000/day and insurance will only cover $700/day. To stay for 2 months, as he should, he needs $20,000, which is $300 per day.

The timing is crucial: Emerson is too incapacitated to function, even to go to school. It takes him a half hour, and that with his mother’s firm help, to get out of the bathroom every morning. He is currently on the waiting list for Rogers. In fact, his symptoms are so severe that Rogers is trying to move him up the wait list. Emerson needs:

     $2,100 by April 7  — GOAL ACHIEVED!!

    $4,200 by April 14  — GOAL ACHIEVED!!

    [was: $20,000 by April 30]  — NOW $30,000 by April 30, since Emerson will need 3 months of care, not 2.

Emerson tried to go back to his beloved Waldorf school, but it only lasted 3 days.  He couldn’t focus enough to read.  It took over half an hour for his teacher to transition him to his first class. He kept disappearing and being found running up and down the stairwells to lose weight or "purge" in a seemingly healthy but in fact harmful way. He kept refusing to sit in class, and taking the long way to the wastebasket, to lose calories. He left school property to run through the neighborhood. His teacher, Jordan Hammans, said, “He was getting stuck at every step of the way, feeling the need to give into compulsion after compulsion. This illness has him in its fiercest grip yet.” And he wanted so very much to be there.

 It’s painful for all of us to see his spirit struggle.  Emerson is 14 years old, truly kind, generous, and whipsmart—an early reader. Emerson’s recovery depends on specialized, comprehensive in-patient treatment of both disorders together. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders. At one point this growing boy went from 110 pounds to 68 pounds. His dedicated, loving mother Suzanne is a single mother with 2 jobs, both of which are more or less on hold since she can’t leave him at home alone now. 

Emerson himself wants this. He says: “I want to be able to play soccer again, I want to be able to go to school.” He is surrounded by loving family members, friends, teachers and community members who care deeply for him. Despite this love and support, the OCD and anorexia have continued to control Emerson.  His teacher said, “Emerson has met these challenges with great determination, bravery, and self-awareness.”  But it’s not enough:

Emerson needs you to be his champion, till he can be a champion again for himself.

Your timely donation is crucial. With Rogers’s expertise and the hard work that Emerson is motivated to undertake, we look forward to the day when Emerson is again the thriving boy we know. Help Emerson get well, finally. Come home to his family, finally. Enjoy his school and his friends, who want to camp and hike with him. Recover his gracious spirit and his happiness.

Please cover a week of treatment at $2,100. A day at $300. Or 3 hours, at $36. Please give Emerson his life back.

“If I could write this in fire, I would write this in fire: please help my son, Emerson. I am talking to you, my village, and asking for your help, and that of your friends. Please donate, and please share this request widely. Thank you.” —Suzanne Barker
  • Anonymous 
    • $300 
    • 41 mos
  • yolanda visser 
    • $100 
    • 41 mos
  • Lindsay Davison 
    • $10 
    • 42 mos
  • Grant Mueller 
    • $100 
    • 42 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $75 
    • 42 mos
See all

Fundraising team: TeamEmerson (3)

Yvonne Keller 
Raised $6,476 from 54 donations
Cincinnati, OH
Suzanne Barker 
Evonne Morales 
Team member
Raised $2,469 from 15 donations
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