(Warning: Contains cute photographs intended to cause sympathy)
I am an uncle. Those who know me well are aware of the fact that I can't go more than 15 minutes without talking about my sister's kids. Like me and many others in my family, one of them (John, currently 4 years old and about to start classes at a magnet preschool for baby geniuses) has multiple food allergies. Unlike the rest of us, John's are wide-ranging and quite severe. He is highly allergic to soy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, dairy, eggs, beef, strawberries, and other (more obscure) foods. It might be quicker to list what he can eat (hint: rice) than what he can't.
John, Ed, and a rather large lizard
Even with a very carefully controlled diet eliminating any trace of these foods, John still has a lot of allergic reactions to what he eats. They manifest themselves in the form of skin problems. Despite daily full-body medical cream applications, most of his skin, at any given moment, is covered in hives, rashes, and hard, scaly skin. It has not been easy for him to gain weight (given the dairy and gluten allergies) or to deal with the skin irritation, but he hardly ever complains. A trooper, he is.
"Hi. I am cute."
All of us – family, friends, etc – are participating in the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) Walk for Food Allergies in Chicago on September 13. Our team is named "The Power Gloves" in reference to the socks that must be duct-taped to John's hands every night to prevent him from scratching himself into a bloody mess as he sleeps. Power Gloves give him super powers in the fight against allergies.
I told you he was smart for his age
Please consider making a small donation to sponsor Team Power Gloves. FAAN is a great organization, responsible for a lot of important legislation aimed at those with food allergies (like those warnings on food labels like 'May contain traces of peanuts' or 'Prepared on equipment that also processes nuts'). I understand that many of you readers are as broke as this site's principals, but even $5 helps.
"What? No donations?"
While I feel a bit like Sally Struthers in one of those "For the cost of a cup of coffee…." commercials, I have faith in Ginandtacos Nation. The call is from heroism: won't you please accept the charges?