Going Gluten-FreeNovember 21, 2010

A Super Walk for Super Kids

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Posted by Wendy Mondello

Joseph and Pamela are happy to see
the Red Robin mascot at the
food allergy walk.

“Super Mario” and “Princess Peach” recently escorted me on a beautiful walk through a local park. The slight chill in the air and the leaves fluttering to the ground provided a lovely setting for a wonderful outing with two very excited kids in fun costumes. We were joined by hundreds of local families, all showing their support for kids with food allergies during the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's (FAAN's) Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure.

This year, my 7-year-old son Joseph (a.k.a. Super Mario) was extra excited he could attend the food allergy walk after missing it last year because he was sick. He understands the importance of research and awareness for food allergies. After all, he deals with life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg and soy every day. He is proud to participate in a fun event that provides support for efforts that could lead to a cure. I’m especially proud of the way he is thriving and how well he handles his allergies.

We wore this sign on our backs during the event.

Our team name, "Nuttin' We Can't Overcome!", reflects our belief that Joseph can achieve his dreams while living with food allergies, and our decision to focus on the positive. The FAAN walk certainly falls in the positive category.

It is wonderful to put an uplifting spotlight on these kids and to celebrate their lives. The event is inclusive for them, instead of isolating as so many other events can be. And they get to enjoy a festive atmosphere without constantly looking over their shoulders for peanuts, wheat or spilled ice cream.

I am especially thankful for the members of our local support group NC FACES (Food Allergic Children Excelling Safely), who made the event a success. In addition to the actual 2-mile walk, our event featured activities for the kids, local mascots (such as Stormy of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes and Wool E. Bull of the Durham Bulls baseball team), a silent auction and sponsor displays.

My 2-year-old daughter Pamela couldn't get enough of the mascots, high-fiving them and pointing to each with glee. Joseph loved making crafts while sporting his Mario costume.

My favorite moment of the walk came during the ceremony. The crowd cheered for all of the food-allergic kids for whom we were walking. As I stood clapping for my son, I saw the look of pure joy on his face for receiving such recognition. Applause that my super son--and all other food-allergic kids--truly deserve!

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