Kyle here! After my wife and I had such a great experience when Nima saved me from gluten at our wedding, we asked the folks at Nima if we could attend events for them in the future. The team agreed, and Maria and I got to rep Nima at the FARECon Teen Summit in Washington DC, November 2nd-4th.
What is FARECon
FARECon is organized by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education): The leading national organization working on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergy. The Teen Summit is an annual event aimed at teens, tweens and their families, with the goal of educating them about the latest developments in the food allergy community. The Teen Summit has the added benefit of letting young people from across the country socialize with others their age who share similar life experiences.
FARECon feature more than 20 presenters, speaking on relevant topics like: Tips for Dining Out Safely, Reading between the Lines of Food Labels, and How to Pick the Right College – in which they gave new meaning to the phrase “Safe School”. I loved hearing Chef Joel Schaefer tell the story of how he improved Disney’s dining options; making their parks much safer for food allergy families (Disney serves 200,000 Food allergy families per year). Another highlight was listening to Mary Vargas, Partner at law firm Stein & Vargas and food allergy mom, talking about why she fights for kids with food allergies to have fair and equal access to all parts of American Society.
Who we met
Working the Nima booth gave us a chance to have many great conversations with kids, parents and even grandparents. There were many other cool companies at the Teen Summit; Enjoy Life and Free2B served up some great snacks, Allergic Living Magazine shared some recipes just in time for the holidays and Wingate Kirkland told of how their campers return year after year because they are free to be themselves and don’t have to worry about food allergies getting in the way of fun. Some promising new companies were also present; Spokin shows users what other people like them are saying about businesses, including restaurants, and Dineable allows users to create a profile, which can then be shared when they make a reservation at participating hotels, restaurants, airlines and more.
The best part
By now, you may be asking yourself: With so much to see and do, what was the best part of FARECon? That’s easy: it was the kids. As someone with really only 1 bad food allergy (celiac disease), I was in awe of these young people (the majority had multiple food allergies) and their happy-go-lucky, courageous attitudes. These kids are smart, cool, funny, engaged and TOUGH. We saw kids who wake up every day, ready to face whatever surprises lay in store. They’ll continue to ask great questions, work together to solve problems and, in doing so – they’ll make the world safer for all of us in the food allergy community. These kids have true grit.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastering of fear – not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
— Kyle and Maria Caffrey, Reporting for Nima
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Thank you Kyle for your help at FARECon, and for being such an invaluable member of our community!