Food Allergy Research and Education (F.A.R.E.) holds annual awareness walks in dozens of locations around the country. These walks also serve as fundraisers in which proceeds are effectively used in cutting edge research, to spread awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxes, and supports adults and children with food allergies, offering them the latest information in medical advancements, as well as introducing them to national and local vendors that provide foods that meet their restricted dietary needs.
FARE is also the mastermind behind the Teal Pumpkin Project, which, in only its third year, seems to have become a common “thing” revolving around Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project’s goal is not to take candy from Halloween, but to make Halloween safe for children with food allergies too by providing food allergy friendly treats or non-food items as well.
Those who know my family know that we do Halloween BIG. But you may not know that the reason behind that was to show Michael, my child with severe food allergies, that he wasn’t missing out on something by not being able to eat Trick-or-Treat candy. That solemn fact was overshadowed by the attention drawn to his and our family’s creative and dramatic costumes. Team Pumpkin Project now allows us to rock Halloween three fold: We still have awesome costumes, there are safe treats available for Michael, and we get yet another excuse/reason to promote food allergy awareness with our teal pumpkin!
Last year we organized Team Michael in Michael’s honor and set out with a goal of raising $500 for FARE and walking with a team of 10 people for awareness. We ended up exceeding our goal with a total of $685 and 11 team members. It goes without saying that Team Michael would like to beat last year’s numbers!
We’re taking Team Michael for the 2nd year in a row to Walk for Food Allergy Awareness on Sunday, October 23rd at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens in Leesburg, VA. If you’re in the Northern Virginia/DC area, JOIN US! It costs nothing to walk (a short walk of about 1 mile) however any amount of donation you can offer upon registration is so very appreciated. And if you can’t walk with us, please, I encourage you to consider donating toward this life-changing, and life-saving, organization.
Michael’s food allergies are multiple and severe, even sometimes changing. They actually accompany a larger medical condition that he has called Hyperimmunoglobulin E Syndrome. Also known as Hyper IgE Syndrome, or HIES. It is a very rare immune disorder in which his body’s high serum IgE level rejects with an immune response nearly everything that it comes in contact with. From food to soap, clothing, scents in the air, and more.
Life has always been a little bit different with Michael. At one point we found ourselves having to bring litigation to the Department of Education of the state we resided in, just to allow him to have two doses of Epinephrine on hand instead of one. They believed they should not be responsible for more than one EpiPen, and for ten months sent a teacher to our home for his schooling because they thought it unsafe for him to attend campus with the severity of his allergies.
Not only was FARE an invaluable resource for my advocate, lawyer and I during this difficult battle, but they were also simultaneously working on nationwide awareness of that exact issue, and are in large part to thank for understanding and promoting the current recommendation that all people with food allergies to carry a second dose of Epi. Furthermore, their advocacy and push for awareness have helped shape new laws that better protect kids like Michael in schools.
The personal education that I continually receive from FARE has also helped me to be a more confident caretaker of a child with food allergies. The medical world is regularly changing and evolving, and FARE strives to stay current and forthright with whatever information is available, keeping it all in one easy to access location. It can be overwhelming dealing with a half dozen specialists and hearing different versions of what you’re supposed to do in the event of an emergency. Starting with how to properly identity an emergency.
It was actually misinformation from an ER doctor that contributed to my almost losing Michael to anaphylaxis a few years back. That experience shook me from a core than I didn’t know existed within me, and I rely heavily on FARE now to validate or discredit rumors or outdated information. I would love for you to read about our experience with surviving anaphylaxis. It is lengthy but a very clear picture of my heart. You will know for certain after reading it why anyone who promotes Food Allergy Research and Education means so much to me, as well as why I promote and share it myself. No person on this earth should ever have to experience this horrific affair.
On a lighter note, I’d also like you to check out how AWESOME last year’s FARE Walk experience was for Team Michael. Even in the rain, we had a blast. Things were learned by all of us. The kids enjoyed themselves, and knowing our donations and fundraising efforts went toward something that fantastic made me feel so richly blessed. Enough so that we are proudly participating in it again this year.
Any amount you feel led to contribute is going toward educating people who need to know how to keep food allergic children safe, awareness to communities, and research, which is hope for these kids and their parents, toward what we pray will lead us to one day being able to say FAREwell to food allergies!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for considering this cause.
Go Team Michael! Let’s spread awareness and education together and agree on an ultimate goal of saying FAREwell too food allergies! Michael is worth that much. And the 1 in 13 children in the United States who suffer from food allergies are just as worth it too. Let’s do this!
Click to >> Read Michael’s Anaphylaxes Survival story.
Click to >>Learn more about FARE.
Click to >>Learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project.