Food Allergy Hero Spotlight: Cheryl and Zach Fruiterman
14-year-old Zach Fruiterman leads Team Zach Attack, the top fundraising team at the Albany, NY FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk. His mom, Cheryl, has been involved with the walk for nine years and currently serves as the Chair for the Albany Food Allergy Heroes Walk. We asked Cheryl and Zack to share about their experiences and why they walk every year.
Tell us about your family’s connection to food allergies.
Cheryl: Zach was diagnosed with allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish when he was 13 months old. His cousin Molly is also allergic to milk.
What is your role with the Food Allergy Heroes Walk?
Zach: I am the team captain for Team Zach Attack. Last year we raised almost $3,000 for the food allergy community through the Walk.
Cheryl: I started out as a volunteer on the walk committee, became co-chair, and am now chairing the Albany Food Allergy Heroes Walk. Team Zach Attack started out as a small team made up of grandparents, a few neighbors, and a few friends from school. Our team has grown so much over the years as Zach invited more friends and our community expanded. Some years we have up to 50 people on Team Zach Attack.
Why do you walk?
Zach: I walk because it is a great way to spread awareness about food allergies. This is an opportunity to have my friends and family come out and support me in something that is so important in my life. Every year I invite new friends and one year my entire soccer team came. It gives my friends the chance to see how many other kids have food allergies. It is also an opportunity for the kids and teens with food allergies to see that there are a lot of other people just them.
Cheryl: I walk because it gives me the opportunity to share our experiences with others who may be new to the food allergy world. I remember a few years ago when a mom I had met at the walk reached out to thank me for having such a positive impact on her life. It made me feel good to know that I was actually able to help someone else with the issues that moms of children deal with food allergies deal with on a daily basis.
How would you sum up the experience of participating in a Food Allergy Heroes Walk to someone who has never attended?
Zach: The Food Allergy Heroes Walk is a great way to see that there are a lot of other teens and kids with food allergies just like you! It’s a fun morning with friends and family. You should join us!
The Albany, NY Food Allergy Heroes Walk will take place Saturday, September 22 at the Crossings of Colonie in Loundonville, NY. Register here to join Zach and the other food allergy heroes or search for a walk in your area.