Walk will raise awareness about food allergies while raising money for research

by: VERONICA BRAUN - FARE is dedicated to the safety of the 15 million people in the U.S. who have severe food allergies.On Saturday, Aug. 24, Memorial Park in Wilsonville will be packed with a parade of peanut-free people.

These concerned community members will be walking with a purpose: to support children who suffer from severe food allergies. They will be part of the nationwide FARE Walk to help the 15 million Americans who have this type of life-threatening allergy.

Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is a nonprofit organization that is committed to supporting people with food allergies, raising money for research, and creating awareness about allergies.

“We are making great progress in developing lifesaving treatments and programs,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “Thanks to our generous sponsors and dedicated supporters, the day will come when we say FAREwell to food allergies.”

At the walk, friends and families can unite to meet and encourage other families that deal with similar allergies. There will also be music, arts and crafts, mascots, vendors and sponsors.

“This event is very near and dear to my heart, as my son has severe food allergies,” said volunteer coordinator Lauren Ostrander. “It will be a great way for him to meet other kids who have similar allergies as him.”

Ostrander lives in the small town of Donald, just south of Wilsonville. Her son, Shawn, is 9 years old and has dealt with severe food allergies his entire life. by: LAUREN OSTRANDER  - Shawn Ostrander makes himself a healthy snack - peanut free.

Ostrander remembers Shawn’s first allergic reaction when he was a 1-year-old who ate a cookie at a family friend’s house and could not open his swollen eyes by the time he got home. The baby was covered in rashes and eczema, so the Ostranders took him to the emergency room where Shawn tested positive for every single one of the most common severe food allergies. From then on, the family had to change their dietary lifestyle, feeding Shawn only unprocessed foods prepared at home.

Fast-forward nine years and now there is much more education and public awareness about food allergies. Restaurants and schools have helped tremendously in accommodating people who are sensitive to certain foods.

North Marion School District has been cooperative in making an effort to create a safe environment for Shawn and his classmates who have allergies or other restrictive food lifestyles. All the staff members are educated about allergies and are taught to use epi-pens. The lunchroom at Shawn’s school is split into two sections, with peanuts allowed on one side and a no-peanut zone on the other.

Shawn’s school is just one example of the cooperative changes that come from raised awareness of food allergies. FARE is dedicated to increasing that awareness by providing opportunities to educate people and researching ways to help people with severe allergies have normal lifestyles.

The walk is meant to be a fun and active way to show support for FARE’s efforts.

“We are looking for people in the medical community to have a table of information and visit with kids at the event (and) volunteers to come out and help and participants to register,” Ostrander said.

Local businesses can also help by sponsoring the event. On Aug. 24, registration starts at 9 a.m. and the 2-mile walk begins at 10 a.m. Visit to volunteer, register or find out more information.

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