‘I wanted her to feel that she wasn’t alone, so I wrote a story thinking it was just a cute bedtime story.’
“It was her first birthday party when I gave my daughter a piece of cake for the first time. Within minutes she had hives from her eyelids to her toes. The doctor tested her for egg allergies and he said, ‘Egg allergies rarely travel alone.’ It took a few years to really get a handle on everything she was allergic to: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, sesame, canola oil, flaxseed and mustard.
“I wanted her to feel she wasn’t alone, so I wrote a story thinking it was just a cute bedtime story. Statistics tell us that kids with allergies have a thirty percent higher instance of being bullied. There are many cases of food allergy bullying where kids have purposely smeared someone’s allergen on another child. It could be life threatening. You also have a chance of being left out.
“Someone might say, ‘It’s a cooking party, so why invite her? She can’t participate anyway.’ My daughter couldn’t have the cupcake that everyone else was having at school; instead, she had to bring her own. My little story snowballed quickly and I realized it sounded like a book. My daughter was 4 years old when I wrote “Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel.” It’s now 10 years later, the book is published, and I donate all the proceeds to an organization called FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education).
Before writing it, I knew that I had a good work ethic, but when you write a book from the ground up it is so difficult to take ‘no’ for an answer twenty times before someone says yes.
“It’s also a way to educate other families in a whimsical way designed for kids. Her allergies were so much a part of her; they were in every step she took, going to school, parties, gymnastics, dance and camp. Because of fundraising and research in the last ten years, she has been treated with oral immunotherapy (OIT). In six months, she went from being anaphylactic with eggs, to eating a hard-boiled egg.
“The book became popular and sometimes people would joke around and call her Nutley. I think it gave her confidence. I have visited hundreds of schools reading “Nutley.” It always makes the allergic children feel like rock stars for the day. Before writing it, I knew that I had a good work ethic, but when you write a book from the ground up it is so difficult to take ‘no’ for an answer twenty times before someone says yes. It taught me about how persistent I am. Now I have written three more!”