… Importance of Diligence to Food Allergy Awareness!
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the FARE Walk in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had never participated in a FARE Walk, nor attended the event expo. What a wonderful way to raise money for, and bring awareness to, such an important cause.
Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2012 when Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network and the Food Allergy Initiative merged to join forces. With 15 million Americans, including 1 in 13 children, living with food allergies and the risk of life-threatening anaphylaxis, FARE’s mission is to support the families and educate the public. New initiatives are continually being brought forth and worked toward to create safer environments and better preparedness for children – especially to ensure that schools offer a safer environment. FARE Walks are held across the U.S. throughout the year, raising money by donations from walkers, walk supporters, and generous contributions for research to help find a cure for food allergies.
The Las Vegas FARE Walk turned out over 6900 participants and attendees of all ages. How heartwarming it was to see this amazing support, excitement, and enthusiasm. The lead up to the actual 1.5-mile walk was crazy and fun. With a bandstand DJ leading groups of kids and adults into dance and cheerleading rallies, it was hard not to get caught up in the infectious energy.
I especially loved stopping by all the vendor booths. Many of these allergen-free food companies I was already familiar with, such as Enjoy Life Foods and Van’s Natural Foods. Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips and Van’s Honey Nut Crunch Cereal happen to be two of my keep-in-the-pantry-at-all-times favorite gluten-free, dairy-free, and multiple allergen-free products. I also keep So Delicious coconut milk on hand – it makes dairy-free mashed potatoes so smooth and creamy. And, if you’re not familiar with Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Spread, it is a delicious nut-free alternative to slather onto a “PB & J”. I loved being able to say thanks to some of these companies personally.
Some products were new to me, such as the epinephrine auto-injector Auvi-Q, and by sharing their mission and product purpose, it reinforced the need and ability for always being prepared for an anaphylaxis reaction – and the importance of this cause. I love the new style of this injector! So much more discreet. Looks like a cell phone or large pack of gum in your pocket. Now I can even put it in my waist pouch when I go running.
As a person who lives with the risk of anaphylaxis to iodine (generally found in, but not limited to, shellfish, some salt, and certain medicinal ingredients), I was reminded in such a positive but prominent way that I must take the risk as seriously as the next person. I find I haven’t focused on this as much as I seem to focus on the daily in and out of assuring that I don’t eat gluten, dairy, soy, or peanuts, though these are not true allergen-producers for me. While I know the severity of iodine contact is in a league of its own (for me), and I wear a medical bracelet at all times, it has always seemed the easier issue to manage. After experiencing a couple of allergic reactions requiring medical attention, hearing stories and being introduced to others who deal with this risk – especially with food-allergic children- has brought a heightened awareness back to me … and I’m so grateful for that. Food allergies are never something that should be minimized or taken lightly.
I’m so encouraged by the work and results of FARE’s efforts and all of its supporters. Thanks for not only showing me a great time at the walk, but for reminding me that nothing should be taken for granted. I’ll be attending again and spreading the news!
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™