To say that the past school year has been stressful for the Joss family would be an understatement.
Sophia Joss, age 7, is allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. Earlier this year, the first-grader was chased with peanut butter by a boy who was unaware of the potentially severe consequences. He thought it would make her sneeze.
Another day, she experienced a contact reaction at school and yet another day, a child with peanut butter on his hands touched multiple milk cartons in the cafeteria.
Tammy and Wayne Joss worked with school officials on implementing procedures that would help keep her daughter and other students with food allergies safe. It’s been a work in progress, but they have been happy with the school’s responsiveness.
The entire process led Joss to action. She wanted to host a fundraiser in support of FARE that would also serve as a way to educate others about the severity of food allergies. Enter Team FARE, which enables families and individuals to easily create fundraisers tailored to their interests.
Joss decided she would organize the first-ever “Joss Jamboree for Food Allergy Awareness,” a backyard party with a movie, DJ and other fun activities, at her Atlanta home. In its first year, the Joss Family had over 100 attendees and exceeded their initial $3,600 goal in support of FARE’s research, education, advocacy and awareness initiatives.
“The issues we experienced made us want to be advocates. Instead of being advocates because of a tragedy we want to advocate to prevent a tragedy.” Joss said. “I know that (this event) has changed people’s mindsets.”
For its first year, Joss made the event invitation-only to help ensure that she could accommodate all attendees. Donations to FARE were encouraged. Neighborhood kids helped design posters, and Joss created t-shirts and decorated the party space with teal tablecloths.
As the date of the event approached, Sophia was so inspired that she wrote a song to perform and said a few words in front of the crowd.
“I think she was very proud that people were there for her,” Joss said.
Joss is already planning for next year’s event, once again time it to coincide with Food Allergy Action Month, with the hope that it will be bigger and better.
As for the young boy who wanted to learn what would happen if Sophia were exposed to peanut butter? He now washes his hands frequently in order to play with Sophia, and his family enthusiastically supported the Joss Jamboree.
Interested in hosting your own Team FARE event? Visit teamfare.org to learn more.