Welcome to KFA’s new online community! To make Kids With Food Allergies Foundation a better place for all families with children with food allergies, we are launching phase I of our website improvements – a new online community that is mobile-friendly and designed for moms (and dads) on the go, including people who don’t have the luxury of a computer with which to access the Internet. With these improvements, we hope to expand our reach and to help more families with day-to-day support they can use to keep their children safe and healthy.
Another feature of our new website is three blogs – a leadership blog, a food, cooking and nutrition blog, and a medical advisory team blog. The leadership blog will include messages from me (President of KFA), board members and staff. Our Medical Advisory Team members will be blogging about their insights regarding food allergy issues. We'll have bakers, cooks and nutritionists blogging to help you gain insights into making safe, delicious and nutritious foods for your family. We want to hear from you so please let us know what topics or issues you’d like us to blog about.
For the first leadership blog post, I’d like to introduce myself to you. Although I knew all our members personally back when KFA started as an informal e-mail list back in 1998, we are now so large that many of you may not know my story. And my story turned into the story of KFA. Here’s how it all started…
Becoming a mom changed the way I viewed the world in more ways than I ever thought possible. As a professional on a career path, I had expected to have my baby, hire a babysitter and head back to work after 6 weeks. As it turned out, nothing was further from the truth, and becoming a mom to my son led me down a completely different life path. It’s a life path I was not expecting, but one I would not change for a minute.
First of all, my son was born in 1990 with a life threatening birth defect: one with a 50% mortality rate. That alone changed my world as I knew it. After a NICU stay, I took home a baby with an evolving complicated medical history; one who required multiple surgeries (including one as an emergency at midnight); one who was hospitalized several times with asthma attacks and aspiration pneumonias – all before he was a year old.
While he was overcoming the other medical challenges, he developed about a dozen food allergies. Twenty years ago, a child with a dozen food allergies was almost unheard of. It was a worrisome and lonely time; one where little was understood about food allergies or how to manage them. I cooked all food from scratch, and did the best I could as I figured things out on my own. I made mistakes. I was overwhelmed.
These experiences gave me an appreciation for challenges others faced that were far worse than mine. It gave me a reality check on motherhood and what was really important - a healthy child. Everything else was secondary. It also gave me the resolve to do whatever it took to change my son’s world for the better, even if it headed me into unfamiliar territory. It lead me to finding new ways to do things, looking for answers to questions and reinventing motherhood as I envisioned it. It also gave me a perspective that’s kept me strong and focused. When you have a child almost die at birth as well as dealing with multiple episodes of anaphylaxis, other life challenges seem trivial in comparison.
This strength and vision led me to found Kids With Food Allergies Foundation back in 2005. I could have taken an easier road and kept a steady paycheck as a health care consultant. But dealing with all of my son’s health challenges made me realize I had the professional skills to make an impact on the food allergy community in a large way, with help from others who believed Internet can connect people with high quality health information and others like themselves for moral support and information sharing.
It hasn’t been easy! But the parents with whom I’ve had the honor to work have inspired me keep going and to do better things for our community. Many have become dedicated, long time volunteers, members and/or donors, for which I am very grateful. Parent testimonials have been evidence that the community we’ve created help families keep their children safe and healthy and help improve their quality of life and well-being. Parents have inspired me and energized me with their own courage and determination when facing adversity dealing with challenges that have overshadowed mine. They have shown their love and commitment for their children to be healthy, safe and included. They keep me focused on the future and how much more we can do for more families until a cure is found.
I hope you will join us on our latest journey and support our expanded efforts to educate families with practical food allergy management strategies to save children’s lives and improve the quality of life for children with food allergies and their families. We will not be able to touch the lives of more families and their children without your continued support of our mission.
Enjoy looking around and checking out our new online home! Let us know how you like it and what you’d like us to offer that we need to put on our to-do list.
P.S. Our new community is just the first step in offering a new user-friendly design and mobile-friendly access for our entire website as well. We hope to upgrade the rest of our website soon.