On Sunday, September 30, 2012 my family participated for the third year in a row the FAAN walk – Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network’s walk around Lincoln Park in Chicago. The participants raise money that goes towards education and research to find a cure for the ever prevalent food allergies. It is a great cause and near and dear to my heart. My six year old son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  We’ve been dealing with these allergies since he was eleven months old. His food allergies keep us on alert and is quite a challenge daily.  It was nice to walk along the beautiful Chicago park among the changing leaves and the lakefront.  For my son, it was nice to be surrounded by other children with food allergies who also have to sit at the allergy table, carry an Epi-Pen, and avoid many yummy treats.

My children love the free cookies, chips, and candy they hand out to the participating crowds. What is wonderful about these treats is they are allergy friendly treats. Safe treats made in facilities that do not use peanuts or tree nuts. Many of the treats are also dairy and egg free. Some of the allergy-friendly brands that sponsor the FAAN walk for Food Allergy are Enjoy Life, Ians, Divvies and Sunbutter.  We always stock up on as many samples as we can. My son loves the cookies and seed packets. We all snacked during that walk and that is part of what makes this day special.  Getting an opportunity to walk alongside other families supporting their food allergy family member is a rewarding experience.  Finally, these children have a day to feel special and normal.

One touching story was about Sabrina, a spunky thirteen year old that lost her life after eating French fries in the school cafeteria. Her mother told us the story of her last day and the journey to passing Sabrina’s Law:

“The law, which took effect January 1, 2006, requires school boards to have all principals implement anaphylaxis plans that include: strategies to reduce exposure to allergens, procedures to communicate to parents, students and employees about life-threatening allergies, and regular training on dealing with life-threatening allergies for teachers and staff.

In addition, principals are required to: develop an individual plan for each student at risk of anaphylaxis, maintain a file that lists that student’s prescriptions and emergency contacts and ensure that parents enrolling pupils supply information on a child’s allergies”.  [Allergic Living]

I don’t think I will ever forget the story of Sabrina Shannon.  Every day I send my son to school, I fear he will suffer the same fate. If you are looking for a great cause to support, I encourage you to look into FAAN – The Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network. Sign up for the walk near you. You won’t regret it and you will feel the energy, love and support all around you.

Photo Credit: http://www.foodallergy.org