I’ve always been a little nervous as a mom. My personality type lends itself to always being prepared for the worst case scenario. To that end, when my youngest had an allergic reaction to oatmeal as a baby, I was on high alert for other food allergies. Thankfully, he outgrew the oatmeal allergy, although he developed a gluten intolerance. Fortunately, none of that is life-threatening and he doesn’t have any kind of allergy to other foods. It took a long time for me to relax about it, though, because the problem with those severe allergies is, many times you don’t know they are an issue at all until the first time a reaction happens and it’s immediately life-threatening. That nightmare scenario is what happened to Florida mom Meg George.
In a powerful essay on TODAY Parents, George writes about how she discovered her daughter’s life-threatening cashew allergy in the exact moment of her first reaction, which was severe and critical. She was at a community Christmas tree lighting with her family when her daughter’s face blew up immediately after a couple bites of nut-based ice cream.
Incredibly, though George had no inkling her daughter was allergic, she immediately knew what to do to get her help. You see, just weeks earlier while touring her kids’ new school. she had learned about another child with a severe nut allergy named Oakley. In her essay, George explains how and what she learned about Oakley upon seeing red sneakers posted all over the school. She says:
“’What’s the red shoe all about?’ I asked the Head of School. She told me to look up a nonprofit called Red Sneakers for Oakley and read the story on their site…the shoes represented a favorite pair once worn by Oakley, a young boy who lost his life to an allergic reaction to nuts. He’d attended this very school at the time of his passing. Thereafter, his parents founded an organization to advocate worldwide for food allergy awareness and the use of epinephrine, something that was not used at the time of his passing, and that his parents openly wish had been.”
That night George read everything she could find about Oakley, his parents, and their organization. Then she tucked the information away, no doubt hoping she would never need it.