allergy can be fatal
Osgood family hopes, prays, and walks for a cure
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
My best pal! Taylor Heaton smiles
as she clutches a box of Cheerios at her grandparents home
(Phil and Janet Mohr) in Osgood.
Why are Cheerios a girls best pal? The question is simple,
yet complex. Taylor has a severe allergy to peanuts and peanut products,
and Cheerios is peanut free.
The allergy controls the lives of the Heaton family, Christi and
husband Bruce, and their other daughter, Brooke, who is age 6. Everything
we do revolves around whether a product has any trace of peanuts
or tree nuts in them, noted Christi.
The Heatons have been dealing with this since Taylor was 16 months
old and know the score. It is imperative that their daughter not
have any contact with peanuts and tree nuts. Once when they were
in a candle store, someone in a back room opened a jar of peanut
butter. The results were immediate and Taylor began to swell.
Taylors allergy is so severe she tested off the chart when
her allergist, a doctor from Louisville, tested her. She cant
tolerate even the dust that comes off the nuts. If you touch
peanuts, then rub your hand on a table and Taylor touches it, she
can have an allergic reaction, noted Christi, outlining how
serious her daughters condition really is.
While on vacation, Taylors grandma, Janet, was in line buying
some lotion. She glanced at the ingredients and exclaimed, Oh,
no! Her husband Phil said, I thought something serious
was going on. Something serious was happening. The lotion
had an ingredient in it that would have serious consequences for
their granddaughter if she came into contact with it.
Christi stressed that every label must be read every time when she
buys groceries for her family. You cant take it for
granted, she noted, saying manufactures change the way they
process products and that could have a deadly outcome for her daughter.
The family has banned together, along with many of their friends,
to create a safe zone for Taylor. However, the world is big and
she has to always be on the alert for products that could make her
very ill. Is it safe? is a question Taylor has learned
to ask frequently.
The family has to always check to see if its safe for Taylor.
This might mean checking with the chef at a wedding reception to
see whats in the wedding cake. Sometimes we just take
a cupcake or a little cake for Taylor, noted Janet. This gives
the family the assurance they need to keep Taylor safe.
Knowing the severity of the allergy, when the family found out about
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Walk for Food Allergy
event, they were excited. You mean I can make a difference?
Taylor asked. Not one to sit on the sidelines feeling sorry for
herself, she went to work and enlisted the help of her grandpa Phil
to make cookies. She handed out 124 peanut safe cookies
at her church, Osgood First Baptist, and told her story. The congregation
responded with donations for Taylor to take to the walk. These donations
will be used to help find a cure.
The Heaton family, along with grandparents Phil and Janet Mohr,
comprise the Team Taylor that will be walking the 2.3
mile walk at the White River State Park in Indianapolis on August
18. The local team already has $500 to contribute to finding a cure
and are inviting anyone who wants to partner with them to send donations
to: Taylor Heaton, 2761 W. County Road 300 N, Osgood, IN 47037.
The checks can be made out to FAAN (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis
Network). This is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and your contribution
is tax deductible.
In a written statement, Taylor says, I am walking to help
raise money so that researchers can continue their work. The shot
that they are working on would be something that I would have to
get monthly. This shot could possibly eliminate the life threatening
reaction that occurs if I were to eat something that I am allergic
to. This shot could help change my life!
While Taylor knows that she is different from other children when
it comes to her allergy situation, shes a typical third grader
who is looking forward to school this year in Mr. Chad Pindells
classroom at Jac-Cen-Del Elementary.
The school has been absolutely wonderful, noted Christi,
who said they have gone peanut butter free in the cafeteria
and even designated a table Taylor can sit at where no one is consuming
any peanut products at all. Parents will receive a note telling
them there are students with this allergy and asking them to not
send these products with their children. The lunch boxes are kept
in an area away from the classroom. They do everything they
possibly can to help with the situation, Christi said.
Something as simple as popcorn at the movies or attending a circus
can have a devastating affect on Taylor. We just have to watch
everything. Its my job to educate her. Diligence is the key,
Christi noted. So when this family goes out to eat at a restaurant
or a friends back yard barbecue, they will need to know what
the ingredients are in the food they will be consuming. Its
just a way of life for the Heatons that could be changed through
Trace Adkins, country music giant, will be the honorary chair at
the Moving Toward a Cure walk in Indianapolis. This
is a cause Im very much involved with, he noted. His
daughter was diagnosed with peanut allergy at 18 months of age.
So, I know firsthand how important FAANs efforts to
increase funding for food allergy research are. For more information
on the walk, you can log onto www.foodallergywalk.org or call 1-800-929-4040.
Monies raised from the walk event could make the difference between
life or death. It could mean a simpler life for those with peanut
allergies. According to information from an article in The New York
Times, there is a new drug being tested that could provide better
quality of life for those who suffer from the allergy. A shot could
be administered that would create a buffer zone. This
means if patients accidently come in contact with, or ingest peanut
products, they could survive. With an estimated 1.5 million people
in the United States suffering from the allergy to peanuts, the
news is good.
Christi agreed with Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive of the Food
Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network when she said, It is nearly
impossible to avoid a reaction...there is no break in the constant
worry about a reaction or the possibility of death.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Taylor Heaton, 8, clutches her box of Cheerios. It's
one thing she knows is safe for her to eat. Taylor was
diagnosed with a severe allergy to peanuts and all tree
nuts when she was just 16 months old. Together with her
family, she is participating in a fundraising walk next
weekend in Indianapolis to find a cure.