Article- Food allergic sections popping up at some ballparks

Posted on: Tue, 05/21/2002 - 12:12pm
TJMOM5's picture
Joined: 08/10/2000 - 09:00

pNEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - A year ago, Nicholas Jones' peanut allergy forced his family to leave a New Britain Rock Cats game minutes after arriving. Earlier this month, the 6-year-old fan returned to the stadium to throw out the first pitch./p
pThrough a special arrangement with the Eastern League team and a local support group for people with severe food allergies, a ``food-free'' section was established at New Britain stadium./p
pSimilar sections have been set up by other teams around the country, including the Texas Rangers./p
pIn New Britain, the section was cleaned before the game and extra ushers were posted to keep people with food out of the area./p
pFor many of the kids, it was the first time they had been to a professional sports event. Normal childhood activities - ballgames, going to the movies or the zoo, even some birthday parties - are usually off-limits for such children, because of the risk they could eat, touch or simply be near food that could cause a fatal reaction./p
p``There's not a lot of options for us,'' said Laura Austin, whose 2-year-old son, Skyler, is so allergic to peanuts, milk and other foods that she has locks on her refrigerator./p
pAustin, who brought Skyler and 6-year-old Dakota to see the Rock Cats, said the game was an amazing experience./p
p``It was so much fun,'' she said. ``We never get to do anything like that.''/p
pMore than 7 million people are estimated to be allergic to some type of food, including 1.5 million allergic to peanuts. Even traces of the nut can cause highly allergic people to immediately go into anaphylactic shock that can be fatal./p
pSufferers must always carry syringes of epinephrine that can stop the reaction for about 20 minutes as they rush to the emergency room./p
p``When you're living with a child with a food allergy, you never have the luxury of letting down your guard,'' said Anne Munoz-Furlong, head of the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Network, an advocacy and awareness group with more than 24,000 members./p
pAt the same time, parents are struggling to balance caution with providing their children as normal a life as possible, Munoz-Furlong said. That's why the group is helping parents such as Laura Austin and Sandy Jones, Nicholas' mother, to set up activities their kids can safely attend./p
pIn Texas, a family with an allergic child was able to go to a Rangers game last year because the team sectioned off a few food-free rows. In North Carolina, a local allergy support group is planning a food-free game in June with the Hickory Crawdads./p
pThe Connecticut game came together after Jones approached the Rock Cats and explained her family's situation. Her son loves baseball but on the way out of the ballpark last year, he told her, ``That's OK, mom; I don't have to go to a baseball game.''/p
pHe should be able to go, his mother said. Rock Cats manager John Willi agreed, and together the team and the parents set up the food-free section for the game this month./p
pThe team put extra security in place and made sure the families had a separate entrance away from the concession stands. Vendors didn't sell food near the section, and cleaning crews paid special attention to the area. Before the game, Jones and her father were permitted to come in with buckets and dishwasher soap (which dissolves the proteins in peanuts that cause the allergic reactions) to wash down the seats and the railings./p
pNicholas and his family got the full game experience. He and his 7-year-old brother, Christopher, who both play on a team, donned a giant foam paw with claws and a big foam 1 finger to cheer the Rock Cats, who routed the New Haven Ravens 12-5./p
pChristopher got his baseball signed, and Nicholas threw out the game's first pitch. The Rock Cats sold out the section and earned some loyal fans in the process. Willi said the team is trying to arrange more games this season with food-free sections./p
pIn North Carolina, the group Food Education Allergy Support Team (FEAST) is gearing up for a Crawdads game on June 26. Amy Morrison, whose 3 1/2-year-old son, Cammron, is severely allergic to peanuts and other foods, is helping the team to make safety arrangements./p
pMorrison plans to use the game as an educational opportunity as well, setting up tables to let Crawdads fans know about food allergies. The hope is that the more people know, the less likely that something dangerous will happen to their kids./p
p``We're excited about the fact that our kids are going to a ballgame, but we're also excited about the public awareness,'' Morrison said. ``Every time someone new learns about this, our children are that much safer.''/p

Posted on: Tue, 05/21/2002 - 11:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What a great idea!!! I love going to the ball park. I never used to react to smell or touch, but was really upset one year when a local radio station started a "peanut gallery". They would pick a section of the park and through bags of peanuts at spectators. I started calling the station before going to the dome to make sure my section wouldn't be picked. Then, the team management (or whoever) started shooting hot dogs out of a cannon at people. The first time they had it set wrong and people got hit with shredded hot dogs. As I'm allergic to the buns, that's when I stopped going to the park. They have since stopped the cannon.

Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2002 - 9:30am
Anna's picture
Joined: 07/20/1999 - 09:00

Wow! Was this in Toronto?
Were there any complaints made by the local allergy groups?

Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2002 - 11:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yes it was in Toronto. And I never really thought about it, but I don't recall hearing any complaints. I think the peanut gallery got stopped because of allergy complaints - but then again, the radio station sponsoring it also changed format, so I'm not sure. As for the *hotdog confetti* everyone else just thought it was funny. They don't do it anymore though.

Posted on: Tue, 05/28/2002 - 2:40am
CVRTBB's picture
Joined: 11/23/2001 - 09:00

This is a quote from the above article, >>>Jones and her father were permitted to come in with buckets and dishwasher soap (which dissolves the proteins in peanuts that cause the allergic reactions)<<< is this true?? If so I have never heard of it... I thought that there was nothing that would remove the peanut protein. If it is true I will definately buy some!

Posted on: Tue, 05/28/2002 - 2:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Good eye Valerie. Isn't there a string of posts somewhere discussing best way to clean. Seems baby-wipes were popular for that.

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