Two food allergy moms are doing just that as participants in one of a series of fundraisers called Over the Edge. Happening in four locations this fall, a group of adventurous souls will be rappelling down the side of a high-rise building, all to benefit FARE’s food allergy education, advocacy, awareness and research programs.
We’ll have events in Arlington, Va. on Nov. 16; Atlanta on Nov. 23; Tampa on Dec. 7; and Houston on Dec. 14.
We recently chatted with two moms who are bravely going Over the Edge for FARE, Mary Kirkman of Atlanta and Natasha Perkins of Vienna, Va. It only took a matter of days for the women’s friends and family to contribute enough donations to send them over the edge! Below is an excerpt from their interview, but you can read more about Mary and Natasha in the next issue of FARE’s quarterly newsletter, out next month.
How are you affected by food allergies?
Mary: Our 8-year-old daughter, Olivia, was diagnosed just after her first birthday with multiple food allergies. We’ve been through four anaphylactic reactions in her short life. Food allergy awareness and education has become our passion. I’ve enjoyed chairing the FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Atlanta, GA, working with our school district to stock epinephrine and educating parents and children whenever possible. I know that our experience can help others.
Natasha: My 8-year-old daughter has multiple food allergies. She was diagnosed as an infant. As she has gotten older, her symptoms and reactions have become more severe. She has had an anaphylactic reaction to milk. She also has severe eczema that makes her miserable. Managing her allergies is a daily, stressful and time-consuming effort. We have to plan her meals and eliminate her exposures. Grocery shopping is very time-consuming since we have to read and re-read labels. It is challenging to just get a quick bite to eat since she cannot eat at many restaurants and we have to be very careful at others. Our food bill is much higher now as well, because the foods she can eat are more expensive. Her social life is impacted because we cannot just send her with others to eat or stay overnight. She has to bring her own food to parties and events and many times she just doesn’t have the treats other kids do. Many of her friends’ parents are scared to have her over because they are scared of the epinephrine auto-injector that is her constant companion. Zoe handles the disappointments of not being able to share in a treat very well, but I can see that she is saddened and it breaks my heart.
How did you talk to others to gain support for your Over the Edge fundraising campaign?
Mary: I went friend to friend and asked them to “send me over the edge.” Once I explain what that means exactly and that I’m doing it for Olivia they are extremely supportive and ask if they can come watch. Of course they also think it’s the craziest thing they’ve ever heard!
Natasha: Zoe has lifelong allergies that require a significant amount of effort to manage. She is on the list to participate in a clinical trial, however, such trials need to be funded. FARE supports trials like this one.
How have your family and friends reacted when you have told them you’re rappelling down the side of a high-rise building?
Mary: Everyone is VERY excited for me and can’t wait to come watch. However, most of them have told me that I’m completely crazy! Olivia can’t wait to watch me.
Natasha: Most have joked that I have lost my mind. Others have said that a mother’s love knows no bounds. Most have thought it is really cool.
What would you say in encouragement to others considering Over the Edge?
Mary: I would say – come on, it will be awesome!! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity! Besides this is by far the easiest way to raise money for food allergy that I’ve ever come across!
Natasha: Just go for it. Twenty minutes of facing a fear is nothing compared to the constant fear that people with food allergies and the families have. What Zoe addresses daily is much more challenging.
You can sign up to go over the edge by visiting www.overtheedgefare.org. If you’re not a thrill-seeker yourself, challenge a friend, family member