The day started out less than graceful as I channeled my best Sherpa moves only to fail as I dropped a lawn sign along the outside of an elevator wall, creating an inhumanly awful screeching noise. The sign, proudly announcing our local food allergy support group’s name, landed squarely on a horrified lobbyist quietly working on his laptop. I was in the Nevada State Legislature packing in the last of our materials and signage for our Food Allergy Advocacy Day at the Legislature. Our goal was to make contact with every single legislator’s office to raise awareness and to thank them for current school stock and entity laws that protect people with life threatening allergies.
Committed volunteers came out to spend hours visiting all 63 legislative offices to deliver packets consisting of a Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) infographic poster, thank you drawings and notes from several children with food allergies and my favorite, the FARE Facts and Stats downloads. The volunteers were ready and equipped with their mission: to leave behind their informational packet, introduce themselves including their allergens and briefly share how food allergies impacts their life and why they want to see the current laws continues. NOTE: Big shout out to FARE for their community outreach grants which facilitated this very successful day.
Why advocate when food allergy laws are already in place?
Lawmakers need feedback about how laws are working out. If we don’t raise up our voices with gratitude and grace as we share the message that these laws are important and are meaningful, they might change. When important information is not shared then good laws may be updated in the wrong direction. It’s all about communication plain and simple.
We were thrilled with our school stock epinephrine law, as it saved a life almost immediately after it was enacted. Actually, the young man and aspiring actor, Andru Casado, joined us advocating as he thanked lawmakers for saving his life. It was touching. I just wanted to cry when he shared his story. He experienced a first time reaction during cooking class and the reaction was swift and severe. His mother still tears up when she thinks about how she almost lost her son. Casado is on the right in the image above.
We want to protect the law that saved Casado. The reactions peopleexperienced when they met him, was priceless. He is the living example of good law.
Food Allergy Secret Weapon
The day was incredible as people asked questions and requested information. One lawmaker asked for PDF’s and links so that they could share food allergy information on their own website. We confess to busting our secret weapon named Sydney, who was our official sticker ambassador. She handed out stickers encouraging food allergy support. This cute little one educated others on food allergies! No one could say no to her stickers either.
The range of volunteers was heart warming and spanned from an early support group member who has graduated from college is working (can we say amazing mentor to our local kids), to young children and teens and their active parents. The group was a beautiful example of how different we all are but we share that one common goal: to raise awareness, save lives and enjoy a great life with food allergies.
I encourage everyone to continue to reach out to your state and federal representatives to show your gratitude for current laws that protect people with life threatening allergies and to ask them to continue their good work. A simple email or phone goes a long way and is more powerful than you can ever imagine.