May is both Food Allergy Awareness Month AND Celiac Awareness Month. These two issues are very near and dear to me. Therefore, I have asked wonderful advocates in both communities to do guest posts here this month. The first is from the founders of a new organization, E.A.T (End Allergies Together). Another from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is upcoming. In the meantime, I’ll tell you why I asked the founders of E.A.T to share some information with us today.
If you have read my story, you know I have 2 children with life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, some tree nuts and sesame seeds. I have things in perspective. What I mean to say is I feel more than fortunate to have otherwise healthy, smart and active children. However, food allergies are a life-altering diagnosis, not just a mere annoyance. This statement in a recent article in the New York Times coined my fears almost perfectly:
“food allergies amplify a kind of fear every parent experiences — of a child dashing suddenly into the street and, just like that, being gone. Your child is always playing near a precipice that is visible only to you: you may be able to keep [them] from falling off, but you can never move [them] away from the edge.”
Except the issue is actually worse. A child with food allergies can be much more mindful and careful than someone who accidentally dashes into the street. You or they can take every precaution possible to ensure the food they are eating is safe yet they can still have a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction or even, as is our very worst fear, die from taking one bite of something that was cross-contaminated.
As all parents of children with food allergies, I live with this fear every day. I try to balance this with the knowledge and understanding that food allergies do not define my children. They are just one part of the much bigger and beautiful picture of who they are. I temper my anxiety and theirs by focusing on enjoying life as much as possible, educating and teaching them to advocate for themselves and allowing them to participate and enjoy all age-appropriate activities. However, this low and sometimes high level anxiety continues to loom over us. I am tired of it and I want a cure. Now.
I believe we are close and when I saw this campaign, I knew the founders of E.A.T were with me. I want to raise awareness of their organization and ask you to donate, spread the word on their #Just10BuckstoEat campaign and help us find a cure for the current food allergy epidemic! Here is a guest post from founders Kim Hall and Elise Bates:
We are two mothers of children with life-threatening food allergies and we launched E.A.T (End Allergies Together) earlier this year to help fill a major funding gap in food allergy research.
We met in 2013 at a local food allergy meeting. Having never spoken to each other, we started passing notes about how badly we just wanted a cure for our kids. We wanted to use our business and marketing backgrounds to help fund the quest for answers for this growing epidemic.
“My daughter, Lindsay, was 11 months old when I first fed her scrambled eggs with cheese. She immediately broke out in hives, threw up, and turned blue. She was going into anaphylactic shock. A call to 911 saved her life.
How could a child who seemingly looked fine one minute be fighting for her life the next, all because of a common food? We soon learned that Lindsay was severely allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. Just a trace amount could be life threatening.”
E.A.T Co-founder, Kim Hall
Over a year after that meeting, we started E.A.T, a nonprofit organization solely dedicated to funding food allergy research.
The food allergy epidemic
We’re seeing a rapid rise in food and other allergies – but we don’t know what’s causing it. It could have something to do with environmental triggers, our genes, our diet, how we live, or what bacteria lives in our gut. Today, there are more questions than answers.
Most of us did not have a personal experience with food allergies growing up. Yet today, only a generation later, 1 in 12 American children are diagnosed with a severe food allergy. That’s at least one child in every classroom and one on every sports team. It’s too many.
The funding problem
While there are researchers trying to find answers, the funds to support them are lacking by over $400 million a year. Medical research takes a great deal of time and money. For example, an early Phase I FDA approved multi-allergen desensitization study at Stanford cost $4.5 million for just 60 children.
We are hoping to help close this funding gap by giving 100% of net proceeds raised directly to researchers conducting the most promising studies resulting in short-term treatment availability and longer term solutions:
1. Food Desensitization
e.g., oral immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy, transdermal patch therapy
2. Medication Treatments
e.g., XOLAIR (Omalizumab), herbal formulas
3. Basic Science (root cause)
e.g., genetics, T-cell immune response, gut bacteria
Our success relies on your support. Every $1 counts. Please help make a difference by visiting www.EndAllergiesTogether.com.
Join us…Help us…Donate…so our kids can just eat.
Kim Hall and Elise Bates are co-founders of End Allergies Together, Inc. (EAT) a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization solely focused on raising money for food allergy research. EAT is committed to giving 100% of net proceeds directly to the researchers seeking solutions for this growing epidemic.