Today I joined hundreds of people at the CBS Studios in Los Angeles to raise money for Food Allergy Research and Education through the FARE Walk for Food Allergy.
We skipped last year and decided to join this year’s event at the last minute. Rather than walking along the shore at Long Beach, this year’s course ran through the CBS Studios lot. It started on what looked like a suburban New England street, and wound past production trailers, soundstages, prop storage, and even the Los Angeles river….
…such as it is. Other parts of the river are much nicer, even navigable at times, but this stretch is basically a concrete drainage ditch inside a bigger drainage ditch. It looks bleak now, but during flood years the channels fill completely, preventing the city’s streets from flooding instead.
Wait, Walk for What–Who–Why?
FARE funds studies to explore the causes of food allergy and develop new therapies. They run outreach programs to make it safer to visit restaurants, or just be at school or the workplace.
Food allergies can range from mild to life-threatening — yes, people die — and those of us on the far end of the range need to be constantly on the watch for hidden ingredients and cross-contact between foods we can eat and foods we can’t.
I’ve lived with a peanut allergy for my entire life. One of my earliest memories is my face swelling up because I rubbed my eyes after feeding peanuts to ducks when I was around four years old. I’ve used EpiPens on several occasions and once went to the ER for two sips of coffee with unlabeled peanuts in it.
The starting/finish line had the usual tables with samples from companies that make allergen-free foods (depending on your allergen, anyway — I can’t eat most of the peanut butter substitutes anyway because they use soy or other nuts), a children’s hospital, and of course kids’ activities to keep them from going stir crazy while waiting for everything to start.
J. spent a lot of time on the bouncy obstacle course. Face painting has never been his thing, but there was a table with craft kits. We arrived too late to start it before the walk, so we set the kit aside to take home. As it turned out, they didn’t clean up until well after we got through (which was kind of a surprise), so he built a picture frame before we left. (Well, most of it. They provided hammers, but not screwdrivers, so we had to finish it at home. Then he painted it.)
It felt like there were fewer people there this year than the last time we walked in the event. I don’t know how much of it is…
- Getting to Studio City vs. Long Beach.
- Splitting off a separate Orange County walk.
- Fundraising fatigue.
- Bad taste over the Mylan/Epipen pricing scandal.
As far as the last item goes, FARE has stopped accepting money from companies that market epinephrine auto-injectors until there is “meaningful competition” in the market. For now, the EpiPen is the biggest game in town, but several companies have devices working their way through the approval process.
We had lunch at Jumpin Java, just down the street. I really should have just left the car in the structure, because I’d forgotten how terrible parking in the Valley can be. We found a space, walked a block to the restaurant…which felt worse than the entire walk around the studio, because there were fewer trees and the temperature had climbed into the 90s as the day approached noon.
According to the website, the walk raised $29,894. The donation page is still open, so if you’d like to contribute, you can donate now and help make life a bit more livable for the 15 million Americans living with food allergies.