Merrill has courageously made it her mission to educate parents and raise awareness about nut allergies through the Red Sneakers for Oakley (being created in Oakley’s memory) and about Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) the largest patient advocacy group working on behalf of the entire food allergy community. There are 15 million people living with food allergies in the US today, including an estimated 1 in 13 children. That’s an average of 2 kids in every classroom. She has shared her story on a national platform and hopes that her work will not only bring about a greater understanding of this allergy epidemic, but will also help to save lives.
Tell us about your son, Oakley…
Oakley was an all-American kid. He was blonde haired, blue eyed, he loved being surrounded by his friends and twin sister, Olivia. He was always the leader of the pack. He was one of those kids who was a total go-getter, super athletic and a complete sweetheart.
When he was a little boy, we went to three different allergists and testing found he had a mild peanut and tree nut allergy, but anytime he had a health issue, it always seemed to be asthma based. When Oakley had an asthma attack, we had a plan of action and it always worked like a dream. We had no idea that allergies can change and mutate over time, especially in growing children.