Holly and Chris Gardner tried their best to understand. As they watched their daughter at the playground with her new friend, whose mom and dad carried Lysol wipes and epinephrine with them at all times, they asked questions. The little girl’s parents took the time to educate Holly and Chris about their daughter’s life-threatening dairy allergy and the precautions they had to take on a daily basis. But as much as they cared and were interested in learning, the Gardners did not yet fully comprehend what life was like for the family of a food-allergic child.
That is, until four years later when their own child had a severe allergic reaction. Holly and Chris’s son was just 5 months old when he too was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. They later discovered he was also allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and seeds. Needless to say, their lives changed dramatically.
Holly said, “Before our son was diagnosed, we thought we knew what food allergies were. But we quickly learned that we had absolutely no idea how badly food allergies impact lives.”
Fast forward another year, and Holly and Chris had gained what felt like a lifetime’s worth of firsthand knowledge about living with food allergies, including the ever-present risk of cross-contact. During that time, they had searched for products that would help make their lives as a food-allergic family a bit easier and safer too. It was that goal that inspired the Gardners to create Safe & Happy Family™ as a way to design and share products they were looking for but could not find. They also wanted to find a way to regularly contribute to food allergy research, which they now do by donating a portion of their profits to the non-profit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
The first product they came up with was the Allergy Alert cutting board. The Gardners had a designated “safe board” in their own home, intended for the exclusive preparation of their son’s meals, but visitors kept inadvertently setting things down on it and using that cutting board for foods that were not safe. So, Holly and Chris created a special maple board, branded with a gentle yet constant “Allergy-Safe Foods Only” reminder.
From there, their product line for food-allergic children has continued to evolve, including dedicated silverware like the “Big Red Spork,” Allergy-Boy™ and Allergy-Girl™ dishware and other products intended to reduce the risk of cross-contact. Not only are these products fun to use, with dishes that feature an empowering superhero theme, but the clear labeling serves as a constant reminder that these items should be used only with allergy-safe foods.
And there are more products coming down the line, including additional plate and platter designs for various ages, a door sign, a water bottle and more.
About living with food allergies, Holly says, “It’s been scary. Isolating. Stressful. But every day we find ways to make the food-allergy life the new norm and make living with severe allergies a little less scary. We want our children to grow up in a world of joy, beauty and fun. And that’s what we strive for every day.”
The Gardners have generously offered a discount to extend to our readers through Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015. Enter the code “MYKIDS” to receive a 15 percent discount on the purchase of any of their allergy-safe products. Click here to visit the Safe & Happy Family™ store.