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Family looks to raise allergy awareness

Leslie Phillips, left, smiles for the camera with her older sister, Erin. Leslie has numerous food allergies. | Brent Maze

When Jack and Sharron Phillips learned their 6-year-old daughter, Leslie, had a number of food allergies foods including dairy products, eggs, beef, pork, wheat and peanuts, they knew they had to change the way they did everything.

That included reading the labels very closely on any food products when they went to the grocery store and talking restaurants to see if they could prepare foods that didn’t contain any of Leslie’s allergies.

“It really changed our lives,” Sharron said. “We did a lot of label reading. We had to be careful of what we bought because we didn’t want it to cause an allergic reaction.”

“We even had to be careful to wash our hands before we touch her when we’re eating out,” Jack said. “It would cause her to break out and have a reaction. It’s just that sensitive.”

Because of the Phillips will be traveling to Nashville on Aug. 27 to raise awareness on food allergies and raise money for allergy research during the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy.

The family has created a team and is collecting donations for the walk. In just a week, the family has raised about $121 and they are hoping more will want to donate to the cause.

Sharron said they have set up a lemonade stand to raise money and other friends and family have donated to the cause.

They also have a collection jug at a local convenience store asking for donations.

“We just want to help raise awareness and further research on food allergies,” Sharron said.

Jack, who is a paramedic, said one of the scariest times of his life was riding in the ambulance with Leslie after she had a severe allergic reaction.

“It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“It’s much scarier if it’s your child who is in the ambulance,” said Sharron, who is a nurse.

One of the family’s biggest helpers is Leslie’s sister, 8-year-old Erin.

“Erin really watches out for her little sister,” Sharron said. “She’s always asking others questions to make sure they washed their hands or making sure that the food around Leslie won’t make her sick. She’ll even ask us, ‘Are you sure that’s OK for Leslie?’”

For those who wish to donate, Sharron said to either log on to www.foodallergywalk.org/nashville_tn11/ and search for Team Leslie or contact her at 256-303-6947 or at jspfamily@aol.com.