Lasting Legacy

Foundation promotes food allergy awareness, advocacy

Reese Henne, Chief of Focus

Meet Ally.
“Ally’s beauty​ ​was​ ​obvious​ ​to​ ​everyone, and her​ ​physical​ ​beauty was​ ​only​ ​outdone​ ​by​ ​her​ ​spiritual​ ​beauty.​ Helping​ ​others feel ​special​ ​by doing​ ​their​ ​hair​ ​and​ ​makeup​ ​was​ ​something​ ​that​ ​Ally​ ​did​ ​frequently​ ​for​ ​others. This type of inner beauty was also on display when​ ​she​ ​was​ ​with​ ​children — whether with​ ​her little​ ​brother,​ ​younger​ ​cousins​ ​and ​students​ ​she​ ​worked​ ​and​ ​played​ ​with​ ​either as a day camp counselor or volunteer at Autism​ ​camp.​ Ally’s​ ​love​ ​of​ ​children ​even inspired​ ​her to pursue​ ​a​ ​career​ ​as​ ​an​ ​early​ ​childhood​ ​teacher.
She exemplified a ​brightness that shined in the​ ​way​ ​she​ ​dressed,​ ​the​ ​bounce​ ​in​ ​her​ ​step,​ ​and​ ​most​ ​importantly, the​ ​twinkle​ ​in​ ​her​ ​eyes​.​ ​​ ​It​ also ​shone​ on the sidelines as a high school cheerleader and ​on​ ​stage​ ​in​ ​a​ ​drama production.​ ​She​ ​was​ ​​naturally​ ​the​ ​life​ ​of​ ​the party​ ​wherever​ ​she​ ​went​ ​and​ ​whatever​ ​she​ ​did.
Ally had​ ​a​ ​true joy​ ​about​ ​her,​ ​a​ ​lust​ ​for​ ​living​ ​life​ ​that​ ​was​ ​infectious.​ ​​​She was​ ​funny, ​engaging​ ​and​ ​always​ ​made​ ​the​ ​most​ ​of​ ​any​ ​situation.​ Ally had a ​mischievous​ ​side, too​ ​but​ ​whatever​ she​ ​got herself into,​ ​it​ ​didn’t​ ​matter,​ ​because​ ​to​ Ally​, ​the​ ​end​ ​did​ ​justify​ ​the means,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​fun​ ​was​ ​just​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​enjoying​ ​life​ ​to​ ​the​ ​fullest.”
— The Allison Rose Foundation
The Allison Rose Foundation [ARF] was formed to prevent other families from experiencing the tragedy and untimely food allergy death of a child or young adult.
“Throughout her short life, Ally always lived with a food allergy,” Ally’s father Mr. Michael Suhy said. “Diagnosed with a severe nut allergy as a toddler, Ally’s family, and her tight knit community, were aware and understood that eliminating nuts from any foods she either ingested, or came in contact with, was critical. Ally’s food allergy did not define her. And while it was a part of her everyday, she continued to live and experience life like everyone else.”
Growing up, Ally made sure to be safe at school and with friends, letting people know about her allergy and how to help keep her safe.
“During her childhood, Ally, like many others, felt secure knowing her school created a safe haven by seating her at the ‘no peanut table,’ her parents were sure to identify ingredients in classroom or birthday party treats and her friends knew that sleepovers could not include any candy with nuts,” he said. “While her food allergy was life-threatening, the education that Ally’s family had been given, and then provided to her inner circle, created a worry-free cocoon where her food allergy never seemed to be cause for concern.”
College is an exciting time for many people, including Ally. She began her freshman year at Ohio University; however, “neither she, nor her family, contemplated that leaving this familiar safety net could change her life forever,” according to the foundation.
“Ally instantaneously thrived at Ohio University, even before she officially moved onto campus,” he said. “Immediately making best, and lifelong friends, identifying as the ‘mom’ in her dorm, joining her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, and loving everything that college had to offer. In the short three months she got to experience this new life, it was the happiest her family had ever seen her.”
Unfortunately, her food allergy would take her life.
“The weekend of Nov. 3, 2017, became one that her family and friends would never be able to forget,” according to the foundation’s website. “It was her first Dad’s Weekend at Ohio University, and Ally had a weekend full of activities she was excited to experience with her own dad. Within a couple of hours after saying goodbye to her dad that weekend, Ally’s family received the call that every food allergy parent dreads. She developed an anaphylactic reaction and was being taken, by ambulance, to the nearest hospital. She immediately had to be airlifted to a larger hospital where, after days, the lack of oxygen she endured during anaphylaxis took her life.”
Through Allison’s life she touched and impacted so many people. After her passing, Allison’s family strove to keep her story and legacy alive by starting the Allison Rose Foundation.
“When Allison passed away, telling her two younger siblings [Jenna and Ryan] they lost not only their sister but their best friend and role model was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Suhy said. “Looking back, Jenna and Ryan both are what helped and continue to help get through losing Allison. From that day, Ryan has always continued to keep Allison’s memory going by telling stories and finding ways to honor her. Jenna has shown tremendous strength and tenacity by forging ahead in her own life and being sure to experience all the things that Allison would have wanted her to. The adversity and heart Jenna and Ryan continue to show are a big reason the Allison Rose Foundation exists.”
The Allison Rose Foundation was started in order to raise awareness about food allergies and how to help, including the “Allison Rose Act.”
“The ‘Allison Rose Act,’ also known as House Bill 231, encourages school districts, community and STEM schools to create food allergy training for staff members and students. Food Allergy Training of staff completed shall qualify as a professional development activity for the renewal of educator licenses. In addition, it helps individuals identify and respond to someone experiencing an allergic reaction. The bill also requires the Ohio Department of Education [ODE] to compile an annual list of organizations who offer free epinephrine auto-injectors to qualifying school districts,” according to the foundation.
Suhy spoke about some of the foundation’s goals.
“We aspire to secure food allergy education as a mainstream curriculum in schools, like CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver,” he said. “Educating those with and WITHOUT food allergies will help to save lives. We, along with our Medical Advisory Board, have developed a physician-driven, evidence-based food allergy curriculum for students and staff. This education is taught by our instructors that are first responders. Being a firefighter for 25 years myself, this partnership is not only a special connection but also allows us to grow. We look to expand this education throughout Ohio and nationally.”
The Allison Rose foundation has made connections with many people in the medical field that help raise awareness of food allergies.
“We have made so many great connections. Our Medical Advisory Board is a collection of some of the best allergists in the country, and we are extremely fortunate to not only have them as advisors, but as friends,” Suhy said. “Our doctors include Dr. Ruchi Gupta – Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Sandra Hong – Director of the Food Allergy Center of Excellence at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Alice Hoyt – Code Ana and Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan – Clear Allergy in Southern California, Dr. Brian Schroer – Akron Children’s Hospital, Dr. Ruchi Shah – Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Dave Stukus – Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.”
Members of the foundation speak to schools about the importance of understanding food allergies; Suhy spoke to NCCS staff during convocation in August.
“Telling Allison’s story and educating students, faculty and staff on how severe and common food allergies are, teaching them how to recognize signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, what to do in case of an emergency and how to administer epinephrine from an auto injector can save lives,” he said. “I believe if education like ours was around when Allison was younger she would still be here today.”
They also award scholarships to high school students and schools who have partnered with them.
“Our scholarship is currently in two suburban Cleveland high schools, Independence High School and Cuyahoga Heights High School,” Suhy said. “These schools host incredible fund-raisers for ARF that allow us to give back via a scholarship. We would love to grow this with other high schools, like North Canton Hoover to do the same.”
Food allergies are an important health issue in today’s world, and they need to be taken seriously.
“Everyone needs to understand the severity of food allergies,” Suhy said.. “One in 13 children and one in 10 adults in the U.S. live with food allergies. When you think about how many students are in your high school, with these numbers there is likely someone, know someone or love someone with a food allergy. With the education the Allison Rose Foundation provides, food allergy deaths like Allison’s can be prevented.”