Monday, April 25, 2011

UFAN's Easter Egg Hunt a Success!

by Kelley Lindberg

Today, I've asked Michelle Fogg, president of the Utah Food Allergy Network, to write about the first annual UFAN Easter Egg Hunt, which was held on Saturday, April 23! Thanks, Michelle!

The holidays... Oh, how I love them but oh, how they present many challenges for the food allergic and their families! Back in 2005 when my first child was diagnosed with severe food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, and mustard, a community, neighborhood, church, or even family Easter egg hunt would have been completely out of the question. Hunting for eggs would have been like navigating through a minefield since almost all candy/food contained her allergens and could cause a life-threatening reaction if innocently ingested...who can keep a 15 month old from putting things in her mouth when they look so pretty in those shiny brightly colored wrappers?!
On Saturday, the Utah Food Allergy Network provided parents and children with a totally worry-free environment during our first annual food-free Easter egg hunt! Thanks to the hard work, tenacity, and generosity of our new Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, Maryann Alston, and the other volunteers, it was a huge success! Over 100 people were in attendance and I felt so happy and humble to be able to offer our members a chance to participate in a community egg hunt where they didn't have to go without! The kids got to mingle with and meet the Easter bunny himself, dance and hop around to some festive music, and then hunt their hearts away while filling their baskets with as much as they could with no worries...they got to keep it all! Toys, trinkets, coloring books, movies, balls, stickers galore, but I could tell that what provided the most satisfaction for all involved was seeing the kids uninhibited and safe. In the world of food allergies where everyday requires vigilance and awareness, even without candy, it was so sweet to savor a moment of freedom! We also proved that you don't have to have food to have FUN!!

We have received many unsolicited responses and notes of thanks from those who attended but none summed it up better, or made me cry, than the following post on our UFAN Facebook page by Melanie in Riverton who said, "I just want to say THANK YOU for the Easter Egg hunt. It was the first one my 9 year old participated in that we didn't have to go home and trade out all of the candy. I didn't think it was that big of a deal to him until I saw how differently he acted at this hunt today. He was so excited to go through his eggs. Then he was dancing around as he waited in line to redeem his tickets. Thanks again and again. I'm so glad there are people out there who get it." These photos are worth a million words.

The Salt Lake Tribune also wrote a great article which helps raise food allergy awareness, of which I am SO thankful. ("Kids Celebrate Allergy-Free Easter," Salt Lake Tribune, 4/23/2011) We have already been able to reach out to numerous new members and have surely raised some awareness! I am looking forward to next year already and can't wait to do it all again and try to make it even better!! Thank you to all who attended and gave of their support and really keeps us motivated to serve you. :)

Michelle Fogg, President
Utah Food Allergy Network

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