What to Expect at a FARE Walk for Food Allergy

The FARE Walk for Food Allergy is a family-friendly event that takes place in more than 60 communities nationwide, and right now it’s walk season! Thousands of walkers across the country are fundraising, recruiting team members, and preparing for the event. Whether you’re a first-time walker or a veteran, we wanted to provide you with some useful information based on questions we frequently receive. Visit www.foodallergywalk.org for more information, to register, or to donate to an individual or team!

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How long of a distance is the walk?
Our walks range from two to three miles, with some walks providing a 5k run or walk/run option.

Who makes the walk program possible?

FARE is fortunate to have many generous sponsors at our walks. The support they provide through the walks is instrumental in funding the national education, awareness, advocacy and research initiatives FARE undertakes in support of the entire food allergy community. Our walks are also made possible through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers – from the walk chairs who organize the events, to supporters who help the walks to run smoothly. Thank you!

What kind of activities will there be at the walk?

In addition to the walk itself, there are a variety of fun activities at each Walk for children and adults. Many walks feature face painting, moon bounces, rock-climbing walls, carnival games, crafts, and prize drawings. A deejay, clowns, musicians, or other performers are also in attendance to provide entertainment throughout the day. There are also a variety of local and national vendors who are on site at each walk, including allergists’ offices, book authors, and food companies.

Will there be food samples or food served at the event?

All of our walks have free samples available, provided by our sponsors or local businesses. We hear from many of the individuals and families who participate in the walks each year that they appreciate these samples because it gives them the opportunity to learn about new or different allergy-friendly food products that they may be able to incorporate into their lifestyles.

What type of safety precautions or policies do you have in place regarding food?

We take a number of safety precautions to help everyone have as safe and enjoyable an experience as possible. We do our very best to share and enforce these policies with walk participants both in advance and on-site, making the information available multiple times through a variety of channels both before and at the event.

FARE Walk Policy Regarding Food at the Walks

In advance of each walk:

  • Walk chairs and staff members discuss all food samples with sponsors prior to the walk and sponsors must clearly list and label the ingredients of their products.
  • A statement is posted on each walk website and an email is sent to all registered walkers in advance of the event reminding everyone that there will be samples at the event and that they should read labels and refrain from opening samples at the walk.
  • A message is sent to walk volunteers noting that they should not bring food to the walk site , and that they should be aware of any foods they consume beforehand and properly wash their hands before arriving at the walk.

On-site at the walk:

  • There is signage on each food table that reminds everyone to read the ingredients on all food product labels.
  • At least three announcements are made during each walk reminding everyone to read labels and to refrain from opening samples at the walk.
  • Sponsors who arrive with food that was not reported to FARE in advance are asked to remove it from the site. If it is learned after the fact that a sponsor provided food that was not reported in advance, FARE staff will follow up with the sponsor to remind them of our policies.

If you have questions or want to get involved in a walk in your community, please visit www.foodallergywalk.org for contact and event-specific information.

FARE Food Allergy Fundraising Champion: David Stotarczyk

friedelIf there are 6 million kids with food allergies in the U.S., that means there are also millions of “food allergy grandpas.” Jordan Friedel’s grandfather David recently showed us how, with simple and earnest outreach, a community can pull together to support a worthy cause.

David is the president of his local Communication Workers Association union in Detroit. While his fellow union members know him as typically being “all business,” at a recent meeting he stood at the podium in the name of food allergy awareness, wearing his “No Nuts for Jordan” t-shirt instead of his usual CWA Local 4050 shirt (“No Nuts for Jordan” is the Friedel family’s team name for the FARE Walk in Columbus, OH). He shared the story of a recent tragedy that deeply touched the food allergy community, the death of 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi, and then told them all about his own granddaughter Jordan who lives every day with life-threatening nut allergies. He explained that he was walking in the FARE Walk to help raise money to find a cure.

friedel2He held up an envelope and said, “If each of you could spare one dollar, together we could add $150 to this important cause.” To his surprise, every member of the union lined up to donate and he ended up collecting $274! With the love and support of his family members, Jordan’s team was the top fundraiser in Columbus, contributing more than $2,700!

To register for a walk in your area, visit www.foodallergywalk.org.

Teen Summit – A Life-Changing Experience

Teen_Summit logo webHave you registered for FARE’s Eighth Annual Teen Summit? If you have a pre-teen or teen between the ages of 11 and 22, you won’t want to miss it. This year’s Teen Summit will be held Nov. 15-17 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Teen Advisory Group member Elisa shares what FARE’s Teen Summit means to her:

I first went to Teen Summit two years ago when I was entering ninth grade. Honestly, it changed my life; I met so many kids who were just like me. I always felt alone when it came to my food allergies and it was refreshing getting to be around so many amazing people who knew exactly what I go through every day. I made lifelong friends at Teen Summit and I couldn’t be more grateful that I went and have become an active member in FARE. Food allergies are a huge part of me and FARE and the Teen Summit have helped me become more confident regarding my allergies.

To learn more or to register, visit www.foodallergy.org/teensummit.

MedicAlert “MyVoice” Program and Giveaway

medicWith food allergies, you can’t predict where you’ll be or who you’ll be with should you have a reaction. However, you can take a few daily precautions to give you the peace of mind that you’re prepared. Always carrying epinephrine and having a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan are key, but you should also wear medical identification jewelry at all times. Just like you put on your watch or brush your teeth in the morning, putting on your ID becomes a part of your routine. It’s a simple habit that could ultimately save your life.

Communicating the severity of a medical emergency quickly is critical, which is why we have partnered with the MedicAlert Foundation to provide the “MyVoice” program, designed to help protect individuals with food allergies with live-saving services. The MedicAlert Foundation stores an individual’s medical information and links it to his or her personalized medical identifications. Additionally, a MyVoice MedicAlert membership provides family notification service in the event of an emergency, 24 hours a day.

We’re giving away a free MyVoice membership! MedicAlert has provided one free medical ID bracelet and membership. Click here for a few easy ways to submit an entry into the raffle.

Enter the giveaway!

We encourage you to join MedicAlert to fully protect yourself or your child. Even if you don’t win the giveaway, the MyVoice program through FARE provides a 10 percent discount on MedicAlert memberships for both adults and children. The Kid Smart membership comes with a free basic ID, or a $10 credit toward an upgraded medical ID product, while the adult membership comes with a $10 credit toward any medical ID product.

Who is Likely to Outgrow a Food Allergy?

“Will my child outgrow the allergy—and when?” This is typically one of the first questions parents ask when a child is diagnosed with a food allergy. Two recent studies shed light on this important issue.

researchNational Survey of U.S. Children
Few large studies have explored which factors could help predict whether or not a child will achieve tolerance—that is, outgrow an allergy. Between June 2009 and February 2010, Dr. Ruchi Gupta and colleagues (Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago) surveyed the families of 40,104 children nationwide—the largest study of this kind to date. The researchers analyzed data for nine common food allergies: milk, peanut, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fin fish, wheat, soy, and sesame.

The study, published online in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology in July 2013, found that 3,188 children surveyed currently had a food allergy, while 1,245 had outgrown one. Key findings of this FARE-funded study include:

  • A little more than a quarter of the children—26.6%—outgrew their allergies, at an average age of 5.4 years old.
  • Children who were allergic to milk, egg, or soy were most likely to outgrow their allergies. The likelihood of outgrowing shellfish, tree nut, and peanut allergies was significantly lower.
  • The earlier a child’s first reaction, the more likely that child was to outgrow the allergy.

Other factors that contributed to outgrowing an allergy included having a history of only mild to moderate reactions, being allergic to only one food, and having eczema as the only symptom. Conversely, children with severe symptoms (trouble breathing, swelling, and anaphylaxis) and multiple food allergies were less likely to achieve tolerance.

  • Black children were less likely to outgrow their allergy than white children.
  • Boys were more likely to outgrow their allergy than girls.

Dr. Gupta and her team conclude that, while more studies over longer periods of
time are needed to confirm these findings, this data can improve the management of food allergies and aid in counseling food allergy families.

Outgrowing Peanut Allergy
Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children. In the United States, the number of children with peanut allergy more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. This allergy tends to be lifelong; only about 20 percent of children are fortunate enough to outgrow it. A Canadian research team reports that children are most likely to outgrow their peanut allergy by age six. After age 10, the chance of spontaneous resolution (i.e., of outgrowing the allergy) is much lower, according to this study, which was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice on June 27.

Between 1998 and 2011, the researchers, led by Dr. Anne Des Roches (Centre
Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine, Montreal), followed 202 children with peanut allergy from early childhood (18 months or younger) to adolescence. To confirm their diagnosis and monitor their allergies, the children periodically received skin prick tests, along with blood tests, which measured the amount of peanut IgE in their blood. (IgE is the antibody that triggers the symptoms of a food allergy.)

Starting at age five, children whose blood tests showed a comparatively low level of peanut IgE also had the opportunity to undergo food challenges, the most accurate test available.

At the end of the study, 51 of the original 202 participants—just over 25 percent—had outgrown their allergy. Further, 80 percent of the children in this group were allergy-free before age eight. Tests also showed that these children had low levels of peanut IgE in their blood. In children who remained allergic, the amount of peanut IgE in the blood increased over the years.

The Canadian team concluded that their findings are consistent with a previous study by researchers in Australia, which followed 267 children over five years. They recommend additional studies to examine “whether spontaneous resolution may still occur in this population in late adolescence or early adulthood.”

The studies discussed here help us understand the nature and progression of food allergies. For more information about progress in the field of food allergy, please visit www.foodallergy.org/research.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2013 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

FARE Food Allergy Fundraising Champion: Stephanie Sorkin

Nutley_coverEvery night, in households around the world, parents and children bond as they share bedtime stories. For Stephanie Sorkin, a mom from Long Island, NY, this cherished family tradition led to the creation of a picture book, “Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel,” which teaches children about food allergies. All of the author’s proceeds from the sale of the book go to FARE. We asked Stephanie to tell us about the inspiration for Nutley and her involvement with FARE.

What is your connection to food allergies?

I have three daughters with food allergies. My 6-year-old has multiple allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, mustard, flaxseed, sesame, and canola oil.  My 7-year-old is allergic to avocados, and my 10-year-old suddenly became allergic to all pitted fruit and carrots about a year ago.

Tell us about your book. How did you think of the idea? Why did you decide to write it? 

My book, “Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel,” is about a squirrel with a nut allergy. The book is upbeat and whimsical, and the message of awareness and acceptance resonates with parents, teachers, and children. It even includes a recipe for nut-free banana bread! I’m getting amazing reviews from both the food allergy community and those without allergies.

The story came to me one night, as I often make up my children’s bedtime stories. My kids loved it! I decided to write it down, perfect it, and eventually felt compelled to publish it. Next, I realized that I had an incredible fundraising opportunity on my hands. I figured, who wouldn’t purchase a book when 100 percent of the author’s proceeds were going to food allergy research and education?

How can others get involved?

There are many ways to get involved. The most simple and direct way would be to purchase the book on Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. You can donate a book to a local hospital or school. You can share the news through social media – let everyone know about the book and that 100 percent of the author’s proceeds will be donated. You can tell your children’s school and local libraries about the book. If you own a store or a friend is a retailer, you can sell the book! Nutley is available wholesale through all of the major distributors.

How did you decide to get involved with FARE?

I chose FARE as the recipient of my fundraising efforts because I felt that the organization was a leader in the food allergy community. It seemed as if FARE was a household name…everyone in and out of the food allergy community had heard of the organization. FARE always has the most up-to-the-minute information available. I felt confident that the money raised will be put to good use.

What has been the best part about publishing your book?

So many amazing things have happened since I’ve published Nutley, I really don’t know where to start. If I had to narrow it down to the best part, I’d say it’s the heartfelt responses that I’m getting from teachers, parents and students. Parents have told me that their child with food allergies feels empowered. This brings tears to my eyes! Parents of non-allergic children have told me that they were so proud of their child’s response to the book—that  they were moved by the message and wanted to know how they can help people and if they could give things away to charity. Students have written to me saying that it’s their favorite book. Teachers have breathed a sigh of relief—they now have a learning tool to open the floor for discussions about allergies and helping others. I’m thoroughly looking forward to what the future holds for my book and for the awareness and acceptance that it can bring.

To learn more or to purchase Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel, please visit Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com.