Spring Into Action: Michael's Story
Michael learned the value of community at a FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk and quickly became an advocate for the entire food allergy community. Michael shares his story:
It was a windy September day, and my mom had cajoled me into attending a FARE Food Allergy Heroes Walk in Oklahoma City. Then only thirteen, I had always felt painfully isolated because of my allergies, but that morning showed me I wasn’t alone. From the sidelines I saw entire families, mothers pushing babies in strollers, toddlers in their fathers’ arms, teenagers dancing the Macarena. In that defining moment, I realized that this was my community.
As a member of the FARE Teen Advisory Group for four years now, my time with FARE has been purposeful and engaging. Under FARE's guidance, I’ve contacted the Governor’s office to obtain the proclamation for Food Allergy Awareness Week, reached out to legislators and restaurant associations to discuss food allergy-friendly laws and practices, and procured epinephrine auto-injectors for my school. I’ve also had opportunities to write articles and give interviews that have been featured in newspapers and magazines. However, my favorite task of all is being able to speak for the food allergic community, be it locally or on the national stage.
For me, advocacy is about taking steps that pave the way to making the next person’s life a little easier, whether that means discussing safety measures with restaurants, reiterating positions on specific food allergy policies with legislators, or recommending safe establishments on social media. The entire food allergy community is like a family to me. I've met some of my best friends through FARE’s Teen Summit and through working with TAG.
If you want to get involved like I did, just take the first step, no matter how small. Advocacy is actually very simple. When you speak out for yourself and tell your classmates and friends about your food allergies, you are advocating for yourself. When you talk to restaurant management and see if they can accommodate your needs, you are advocating for yourself. The most important thing to remember through the journey ahead is to always be gracious and appreciative for every kind and thoughtful gesture and accommodation that comes your way.
You can spring into action for FARE just like Michael. By making a gift today, you help FARE inspire others to support a mission that impacts 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. Donate today.
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Heidi is a food allergy mom who became a leader in her workplace and local community, recruiting 100 of her co-workers to join FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk in Baltimore!
Brandy and her daughter Lauren have been involved in many different areas of FARE, most recently springing into action by advocating for national legislation to require labeling of sesame as the ninth most common allergen.