The challenges of managing food allergy can also be a source of creative inspiration. Last year, FARE Teen Advisory Group member Maya Konoff interviewed 17-year-old Jake Fiore, a varsity soccer captain for Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan (New Jersey). Through a fundraiser he’s organized called Making Saves for Food Allergies, Jake is using his athletic and leadership skills to increase food allergy awareness and support FARE.
Maya: What are you allergic to and what is it like for you living with food allergies?
Jake: I’m allergic to peanuts and shellfish. I used to have more allergies when I was younger, but I outgrew them. My biggest problem was in middle school sitting at the peanut-free table. I was isolated and had a little bit of trouble making friends at first. Now it’s more about talking to waiters at restaurants and staying safe when I go out.
Maya: Tell us about your soccer fundraiser.
Jake: I started it junior year as a starting goalie on my school’s varsity soccer team. I asked family and friends to sponsor me. Every save I made, they would pledge 10 cents and donate it to FARE. If I got a shut-out, they would pledge 50 cents. My coach, my coach’s son and a teammate have allergies, so this year I asked more people to be a part of it, including the team. I have already raised $1000 this year. (To date, Jake’s fundraiser has collected more than $2000.)
Maya: How did you come up with this idea? And why was it important to you to do it?
Jake: I saw someone doing a fundraiser when I was in middle school and wanted to do something similar. It was important because I had a rough time during middle school and wanted to raise money to help others with food allergies.
Maya: Any advice for others living with food allergies?
Jake: People have to see it as a part of their life, not a burden. Don’t be nervous about asking questions, and be open talking about your allergies.
Maya: Any advice for someone who wants to start a project like yours?
Jake: At first I was nervous to ask people to help. Don’t be nervous, because you know it is for a good cause. Your team will be motivated to help you and get involved.
Are you inspired by Jake? To learn more about resources for teens, click here.