Fundraisers often involve 5K runs or being held in “jail” until you raise enough funds to be released. Recently, I came across a fundraiser (the Top 10 Challenge) for food allergy research funding that was quite different. Instead of the usual 5K, the participant is to avoid food allergens for one meal or for one day. Sponsors contribute monetarily to support the participant’s sacrifice of predetermined foods (usually the allergens of their loved one), in honor of people with food allergies. What an absolutely awesome idea! Not only is the participant supporting people with food allergies through a sacrificial act, they are raising funds for research to help end food allergies.
It sounds simple, right? Just avoid peanuts, milk, or eggs for the day. This only sounds simple. Once you begin reading labels, you will see how difficult it is to find foods that do not contain these allergens. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find foods that don’t contain peanuts, eggs, or milk in the ingredient list, offering a glimmer of hope. However, as you read on down the label, you find that they “may contain” your allergens due to cross contamination. Your food choice list becomes short.
Choosing to live a day in the life of someone with food allergies is exhausting. The substance (food) that you must have to keep you alive, can also kill you if it’s the wrong type of substance. Learning that the foods considered safe for you may contain the ones that aren’t safe for you by cross contamination is defeating to say the least. What you can eat becomes a more narrow spectrum. Restricting your choices so drastically makes you begin to feel imprisoned. It’s as if you are living in a glorious mansion but confined to one tiny linen closet because that’s your only safe space. Eventually, you become extremely grateful for that tiny little safe space.
As a parent of a child with severe food allergies, I am choosing to take part in the Top 10 Challenge fundraiser for food allergy research. My prayer is that many people will take part in this Challenge, not only to raise funds but also to experience a day in the life of someone with food allergies. Although you may feel restricted in your food choices, your eyes will be opened to some other beautiful things you may have otherwise missed. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.