Food Allergy Hero Spotlight: Swati Shah
Swati Shah learned about FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk this year and immediately jumped at the chance to get involved and make a difference for the food allergy community by joining the Northern Virginia Food Allergy Heroes Walk committee. She also started a walk team that now has over 50 members! We asked Swati to share a little about her food allergy journey and why she walks.
Tell us about your connection to food allergies.
My son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies when he was 18 months old. It was a huge shock, but we educated ourselves (through FARE and other resources) and eventually became comfortable handling food allergies—or so we thought. All of that changed when my daughter, who had no known food allergies at the time, had three anaphylactic reactions in one year (two in one week alone). One of her reactions was to sunflower seeds, which is not a top 8 allergen and is now becoming more commonly used as an allergy-friendly substitute for peanut butter. It was a traumatizing wake-up call for our whole family—we then realized the magnitude and severity of what we were dealing with. It left us questioning everything we thought we knew about managing food allergies, and wondering what we could do as parents to keep our kids safe.
How did you learn about FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk?
Over the past year I’ve realized that, while I can do everything in my power to try to keep the kids safe at home, I can’t control every environment they encounter—school, camp, birthday parties, etc.—especially as they get older. That terrifies me. I needed to channel this nervous energy into action, so I reached out to FARE in search of volunteer opportunities. When I heard about the Food Allergy Heroes Walk, I thought it was the perfect way to bring together our family and friends to do our part in spreading awareness and making the world safer for people with food allergies
What is your role with the Food Allergy Heroes Walk?
I am a volunteer committee member for the Northern Virginia Food Allergy Heroes Walk and team captain for Team Shah.
How did you recruit your team?
You know that that saying "it takes a village to raise a child"? Well, we’ve realized just how true it is, especially when it comes to a child with food allergies. We’ve tried to be more vocal with our friends and family about the kids’ food allergies and communicate what we can do to keep them safe. When we told our family and friends about the walk, they were excited to join us. We’re so grateful for their enthusiasm and support!
What are you most looking forward to at the Walk?
I hope that by seeing all of the local food allergy families and supporters come together, all of the children with food allergies will realize that they are not alone in their fight against food allergies.
What is your favorite tip or trick you’ve learned to help you with your family’s food allergies?
Always pack meals and treats from home no matter where you go! So many activities revolve around food, and it can really make children with food allergies feel left out. But a safe treat can save the day!
The Northern Virginia Food Allergy Heroes Walk will take place this Sunday, June 10at Nottoway Park in Vienna, VA. There is still time to join Swati and the other food allergy heroes! Register here to join them or search for a walk in your area. If there is no walk in your area, why not consider bringing a FARE Hometown Heroes Walk to your town?