Living with a food allergy can make each day a battle for a child and her parents, but Haley Deibert refused to be limited by her peanut allergy. Not only does she have a positive attitude about life with a food allergy, she also has taken steps to help other kids just like her. With support from her mom, Haley created a business, Allergy Apprentice, to provide helpful merchandise for other children and families with similar allergy experiences and to raise awareness.
It Started With a Scary Peanut Allergy Reaction
Haley, who is 11 years old and lives in Perham, Minnesota, had her first allergic reaction to peanuts as a baby. Her parents discovered her allergy when she licked a peanut that was in a bowl of cereal. Her face puffed up and she started scratching her skin. Rushed to the hospital, Haley recovered, but her daily struggle to avoid peanuts had begun.
Haley is at risk for anaphylaxis, the life-threatening reaction that often results from exposure to food allergens. Because of that risk, she has to keep an epinephrine auto-injector on her at all times. She cannot eat school lunches and has to sit at the designated peanut-free table in the cafeteria. Haley also has to be constantly aware, as so many kids with allergies do, of her surroundings and what she eats or even touches.
The Idea for a Business
It was this daily need to be alert and aware that inspired Haley to start her business, Allergy Apprentice. Knowing first-hand how important it is and how difficult it is to stay safe with a life-threatening allergy, she wanted to make life a little easier and safer for all kids with allergies. Haley realized early on that most people don’t know a lot about food allergies. In restaurants, at parties, on field trips and on other types of outings, she had to be vigilant. She also found that she had to explain her situation and dietary needs to people over and over again.
To help other children who have to make people aware of their allergies, Haley’s business provides a number of products. She sells t-shirts and bags that send a clear message: no peanuts anywhere near me, please. One of Haley’s useful creations is the “No Peanuts Please” card. Sized like business cards, they can be used by kids to hand to servers in restaurants and in other situations to quickly, clearly and easily explain what their needs are. The card lists restrictions in both English and Spanish. For a child, this card can be a life saver and makes it easy to alert adults to his or her dietary needs.
The t-shirts that Haley sells through her online business are also potential lifesavers. Designed to be worn during outings, field trips and other events that could prove dangerous for a child with food allergies, it clearly reads, “No Peanuts” and “Read My Tag for Help.” Inside the t-shirt where a tag would normally be is space for parents or children to write information about what to do if the child has an allergic reaction. Any adult nearby can read the label and know what to do next to help.
Active, Alert, Alive
Haley’s business motto, and motto for life, is “Active, Alert, Alive.” She wants all children with food allergies to be active in spite of their allergies, to always be alert to their surroundings so they can stay safe, and to be alive and to live life to the fullest. Haley’s products could help save some of those lives and make every day a little bit less of a struggle for kids with life-threatening peanut allergies.
Haley is a great example for other children. Not only has she taken charge of her own life and what many would see as a disability, but she has also taken steps to help others. She says that her business isn’t about making money. It’s about awareness and education. If you have a child with food allergies, check out her website and encourage your child to be proactive and to emulate Haley and her positive attitude about living with food allergies.