I am JJ: Here's to the food allergy Changemakers

 Enjoying a dinner with two Changemakers, Jake Ourman, who has a food allergy and who was in Washington recently advocating for change, and Evan Edwards, who helped to develop that life-saving Auvi-Q that we are all holding.

Enjoying a dinner with two Changemakers, Jake Ourman, who has a food allergy and who was in Washington recently advocating for change, and Evan Edwards, who helped to develop that life-saving Auvi-Q that we are all holding.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the End Allergies Together (E.A.T.) fundraiser in Connecticut.

Since launching in 2015, E.A.T. has committed more than $1.2 million to fund seven promising research efforts by scientists seeking food allergy treatments and cures, including Imperial College of London, Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University, University of Chicago, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Cincinnati Children’s, and the Food Allergy Science Initiative at the Broad Institute.  

I was overwhelmed before the dinner talking with people who were there to support a cause so dear to me. When you have a food allergy, you often feel alone, as if no one else gets it at the level that you do. Standing at that event, surrounded by hundreds of people, I felt an energy of hope and promise that I have never experienced.

I was surrounded by Food Allergy Changemakers.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the people who give of their time, their talents and their treasures to make a difference.

• Here's is to the Changemakers, the researchers who quietly work in labs trying to find a cure so that one day no one will ever say, “That tiny M&M can kill me…”

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the funders of research, whether it’s an organization like E.A.T., a company sponsoring a table at an event, or an individual donor who bids their hard-earned money to find a cure.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the ones who create safe foods so that we can enjoy what we eat.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the nonprofit organizations that do so much for so many, and the volunteers who give those organizations life.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, those whose products give us peace of mind so we can live.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the bloggers and the foodies and the writers and the journalists and the activists who keep our issues front and center.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the educators and school nurses and school officials who give every child with an allergy a safe place to learn and to grow.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and extended family and friends of kids with allergies who give love and acceptance every single day.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the pediatricians and allergists and social workers and nurses and EMTs and other medical personnel who often are the first line of defense.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, the families who know the devastation of losing a child to an allergy and, even though their voices can no longer help their own, selflessly speak loudly to save the lives of others.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, those who work in restaurants and other public places who go above and beyond to give us a chance of normalcy.

• Here’s to the Changemakers, people like you and you and you…

Thank you, E.A.T, for all that you do for people like me, and for introducing me to so many Food Allergy Changemakers. In that room on that night I had the chance to talk to at least one person from every group above.