Food Allergy Hero Spotlight: Ally Kalishman
FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk is an incredible opportunity for families and individuals affected by food allergies to connect with each other, unite in a safe space, and celebrate their potential as changemakers for better outcomes for their children and loved ones. These walks are made possible thanks to food allergy heroes such as high school freshman, Ally Kalishman. We asked Ally to share some of her story and why she walks.
Tell us about your connection to food allergies.
Food allergies have been a big part of my life for so long. I was diagnosed with food allergies to over 20 different foods at the age of 6 months and was the first one in my immediate family to show these symptoms. Since then, I have grown out of many of my allergies but I am very involved with FARE. My hope is to help find a cure for something that impacts my life, and the lives of kids all over the world, so much.
How did you learn about the Food Allergy Heroes Walk?
I first found out about the walk years ago when my parents were on a Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) committee. A few years ago, I went to the FARE Heroes Walk again on a whim and noticed how special it was. That's when I decided to become more involved with FARE, specifically the Food Allergy Heroes Walk, to help other kids live their best lives with food allergies.
What is your role with the Food Allergy Heroes Walk?
I run the local marketing and outreach for the St Louis FARE Food Allergy Heroes Walk. I make phone calls, send emails, and put up flyers to attract kids and families from all over the St. Louis area to the walk. I work as the only teenager on the committee and also give recommendations of activities we should include at the walk. In addition, I act as emcee on walk day and make sure the whole event runs smoothly, of course, while having a ton of fun and raising awareness for such an important cause.
What is your favorite part of the Walk?
My favorite part of the walk is when I get to speak as emcee. I love sharing my story and journey to inspire others to get involved with FARE as well, or just in general to go out into the community and raise awareness for a cause they find worthy. The amount of love in the air while I speak is palpable and it gives me this incredible rush of joy to know that I am making a difference.
How would you sum up the experience of participating in a Food Allergy Heroes Walk to someone who has never attended?
The walk is truly remarkable. It's a place where people who are so different otherwise can come together for a common cause that is so near to all of us. The amount of support there for each and every food-allergic kid is unlike any experience I've ever had, and we have all have a blast with each other, strangers and friends alike. It's a place where we get to celebrate ourselves and be reminded that what can make us weak can also make us strong, an experience that I would never trade for the world.