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Home Run For Peanut Allergic Families
Peanuts, Popcorn, Cracker Jacks®! What do those three words remind you of? BASEBALL!! However, as a food allergy parent (peanut specific) only one of those words doesn’t automatically induce a panic attack – popcorn!
When your child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy, life gets a bit more complicated. Baseball games definitely fall into this category. It’s hard to find a safe place to sit at a baseball game because inevitably someone around you will open up a bag of peanuts or a box of Cracker Jacks®. Plus, you add the fact that those who have sat in your chosen seat days before you may have enjoyed a peanut filled snack and the peanut oils may still be present. This could cause hives or something much worse.
In 2015 our food allergy support group (Food Allergy Support Indy, or FASI) teamed up with our local baseball team, the Indianapolis Indians, to help create a safe environment for peanut allergic families to come and enjoy a baseball game. It also proved to be a great opportunity to raise awareness within our community for food allergies. The evening was titled, Peanut Awareness Night with the Indianapolis Indians, and it was FABULOUS!!
When our conversations first began with the Indians’ staff, they were excited about the possibility and a bit hesitant as to how they would go about making the stadium safe for peanut families. We talked through a variety of options and they reached out to other baseball teams who had successfully run similar games. After lots of discussions, the Indianapolis Indians decided to clean the entire stadium from top to bottom, so peanut families could come, enjoy the game, and sit anywhere without the fear that they may be sitting in a potentially dangerous section. In addition, we worked closely with the concession manager to ensure that any product containing peanuts (cracker jacks, peanut M&Ms, Snickers, etc.) wouldn’t be served during the game.
We just finished our second Peanut Awareness game a couple weeks ago and had great attendance and support. In partnering with the Indians for this game, they allowed us to set up a table in center field to distribute information about our food allergies, share coupons for nut-free snacks like SunButter, answer questions, and share about our local support group.
This year we had a food allergy kiddo throw the first pitch and we even changed the lyrics to the famous song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” We sang, “Buy Me Some Popcorn and Nut-Free Snacks…” And, my favorite (okay I’m a bit biased) pediatric allergist, Dr. Frederick Leickly from Riley Children’s Hospital, joined us as our medical advisor and even took time to talk about peanut allergies during the radio broadcast of the game. There were so many great opportunities to share about food allergies with those in attendance and those tuning into the game.
Local news sources came out to interview peanut families and what this special night meant for their family. It was such a wonderful experience for everyone involved and I’m already looking forward to next year’s game! I can’t thank the Indianapolis Indians enough for all they did to make this night happen for the Indianapolis food allergy community.
Does your local baseball team offer a special night for peanut allergic families to attend? If not, you should reach out to them and help spread the word about food allergies!
Lauren Kossack is the author of food allergy blog, epifamily.com, and is the mother of two “little men” with severe food allergies. Lauren shares stories about her epi-family, injecting hope into the world of food allergies and beyond.