December 17, 2017

Parenting Perspective – One Mom’s Parenting Adventure With Her Food Allergy Kiddos

food allergy

Heidi and her kids

By Heidi Hannaman


Reflection on the Loss of Ammaria Johnson


I once heard that “special” people are chosen to be part of the food allergy family .  The recent loss of Ammaria Denise Johnson from our family only drives home the fact that life is fragile and when we lose someone from our “special” family, it is cause for reflection and re-evaluation.


As I have shared in that past, I have 2 children with life threatening food allergies.  Most days, I  feel in control and like their condition is manageable.  Every so often though, a day comes along where I realize there is not enough that can be done to educate and make others around our children aware of how truly precious and fragile their lives are. 


That day recently happened when I saw the heartbreaking news story about a sweet first grader from Virginia, Ammaria Johnson, who accidentally ate a peanut her friend innocently offered her on the schoolyard.  That one small event has changed her family’s life forever.  And as the mother of a first grade girl with the same condition, Ammaria’s story really struck a chord with me.  It is for that reason I am writing today.  I have vacillated over taking a back seat on the issue or being more proactive; I have chosen the latter.


On a personal level, my husband and I enrolled our children in a medical peanut desensitization trial at one of the world’s leading hospitals.  While the commitment is great to participate in a program like this (including extensive travel, many missed school days and of course the safety risk of them eating nuts daily), my reasoning is simple – I need to do whatever I can to protect my kids from an accidental incident like the one that happened to Ammaria.


On a professional level, in my role as a Legislative Aide, I have been given the opportunity to pursue legislation on the issue.  One bill I am working on seeks to stop fraudulent treatment aimed at those with food allergies.  Another designates a week in May as Food Allergy Awareness week.  This has been the most fulfilling time of my career due to the deep personal experience I have with the subject area. 


I can honestly say that taking a more active role on the issue has been empowering, not only for me, but for my kids.  By being more involved, it creates constant questions and discussions in the house, therefore making the family more aware of what needs to be done to stay safe on a daily basis.


Hearing about the loss of this precious little girl only motivates me more to stay active on the issue, as her death should not have happened and most definitely shouldn’t be in vain.  ALL of these incidents are preventable! 


So again, I ask my friends, family and strangers to bring patience and understanding to this condition as it requires the help of EVERYONE to keep these “special” people safe from harm’s way.  What may be a minor inconvenience for you is the difference between life and death for another.


Yes, people who become part of the food allergy family are “special.”  I would encourage all of my friends and family to become more aware of this fast growing epidemic.   Let us never forget the memory of Ammaria and all she represents for parents, kids, educators, friends, and acquaintances who all bear the burden of looking out for our fellow person.


Heidi is the proud mom of two children (Hudson, 8 and Savannah, 6.5).  She also works part-time as a Legislative Aide for a California State Senator.  In her spare time, she is an avid shopper and she attempts to be a “runner.”  She and her husband Brandon reside in El Dorado Hills, CA.   Read Heidi’s first adventure, when she discussed her decision to enroll her kids in the Stanford desensitization trial,  posted last summer.


  1. Rivers Grupp says:

    I enjoyed reading your article Heidi.

  2. Rebecca DeVille says:

    Keep up the fight! These special kids need advocates.

  3. Meaghan Verri says:

    Refreshing to read. I also have 2 small children who live with these life threatening food allergies. I agree with you 100%. Keep it up and spread the word :)

  4. Meaghan Verri says:

    Refreshing to read. I also have 2 small children who live with these life threatening food allergies. I agree with you 100%. Keep it up and spread the word :)

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