CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – Schools across the state are preparing for a return to the classroom. With that comes a plan to handle any type of emergency.
Often anaphylactic reactions to food allergies are overlooked in that planning. That’s why one Northeast Ohio non-profit is stepping up to make sure districts have the tools and training they need to prevent tragedies they know far too well.
Michael Suhy is the Cuyahoga Heights fire chief, but he’s also a dad. A dad who’s driven by the tremendous loss of his 18-year-old daughter, Allison Rose.
“After losing our daughter to a food allergic reaction, we wanted to do something to not only honor her but prevent this very preventable tragedy from happening,” Suhy said.
In Ally’s memory, Mike and his wife, Rebecca, co-founded the Allison Rose Foundation.
The goal: decrease and eliminate untimely deaths of children and young adults due to food allergies.
He said having an EpiPen on hand in an emergency makes a world of difference.
“As a paramedic, I can tell you on scene, if we’ve been on scene and someone’s been given an EpiPen, it’s an easy transition to get them to the hospital,” he said. “If not, it’s an uphill fight in the back of the ambulance if that epinephrine is delayed.”
Not only does the foundation provide EpiPens to schools but it also provides training to staff on how to use them. So far it has reached 75 school districts and universities.
“It’s beyond Northeast Ohio,” Suhy said. “We’re going to universities across the country now to make this happen so it’s safer for kids, knowing there’s this level of protection there.”
Cuyahoga Heights Assistant Superintendent Matt Young said it’s heartwarming to see the foundation make such a positive impact after such a tragedy.
“Being able to have these EpiPens in place allows us to provide some proactive measures,” Young said. “Should an event happen we have those on hand, and we can respond to the health and wellness need of the child.”
Kirtland Local Schools Superintendent Chad VanArnhem said the training has already paid off after a student had an allergic reaction while on a field trip last spring.
“The staff member used it on the child and possibly saved the student’s life,” VanArnhem said.
The efforts continue to give Allison’s bright spirit the chance to shine on.
“It’s a way to honor her and keep her legacy going,” Suhy said. “She wanted to be a teacher, so we’re helping people in her honor.”
The non-profit operates solely through fundraising efforts. If you’re interested in supporting their efforts, you can find out more here.