In September of 2015, 18-year-old Andrea Valentin Mariano died a preventable death from an anaphylactic allergic reaction. Like many Canadian children, Andrea was severely allergic to dairy and peanuts. On just her second day of University she happened to not be carrying her epipen with her, and she bought a smoothie that either contained milk or peanuts. She was taken to the hospital immediately, where she died three days later.
Andrea is not the only Canadian child who has suffered from severe allergies. In fact, 7.5 % of Canadians have a life threatening food allergy; that’s 1 in 13 Canadians or 2.5 million people (SPAACE, 2015). In Canada, the amount of emergency visits due to an anaphylaxis reaction has nearly doubled in the last 4 years (study from 2011-2015). Although someone can be allergic to any food, the top 10 most common allergens are: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, sulfites, mustard, seafood.
What makes this issue and Andrea’s story so real and personal to me is that two of my younger cousins, Preeti and Arjun, suffer from severe food allergies to tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame seeds. I have been present at a family wedding where my cousin who was just 3 years old at the time had an anaphylactic reaction. My cousins mean the world so to me and I can’t imagine anything bad happening to them. It is because of them that I am passionate about raising awareness about food allergies and finding a cure.
I also have close family friends who have severe allergies to nuts, dairy, eggs, seafood, and soy. Unfortunately, right now there is no cure for food allergies and the only way to prevent an allergic reaction is strict avoidance of the allergen. That is why their parents, Jyoti and Peter, have created an organization called Walk for Andrea – Finding a Cure for Food Allergies. My family and friends, along with Andrea’s family have joined together to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for food allergies.
- Date: October 2nd, 2016.
- Location: Milne Dam Conservation Park Trail (Markham, Ontario)
- Time: 10am – 12pm
All the money raised from this event will be donated directly to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Program at Sick Kids Hospital to find a cure for food allergies. To make a difference and register for the Walk for Andrea go to: http://walkforandrea.ca/index.php/registration/. Or, if you don’t want to participate in the walk itself, you can still make a donation by heading to http://www.walkforandrea.ca and click the ‘Donate’ button. Sick Kids Foundation will provide tax receipts for all donations over $20.
To learn more about the walk and food allergies head to http://www.walkforandrea.ca.
Together we can help find a cure for food allergies. I hope to see YOU at the Walk for Andrea on Oct. 2. 2016!
Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!