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Taking Steps Against Food Allergies

Plainview mom looks to raise awareness

Parents of children with severe food sensitivities must be ever-vigilant in protecting their young ones from life-threatening reactions – but one Plainview parent is taking extra steps to get ahead of her son’s allergies.

Heather Alberti, along with her family and friends, is participating in the FARE Walk for Food Allergy, an event that brings together thousands of Americans looking to raise money to find a cure for food allergies. Presented by Food Allergy Research & Education, walks occur throughout the year across the country, with the Long Island walk happening October 13 at Eisenhower Park.

The walk is a family-friendly event to fund food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness. Alberti said education on food allergies is of the utmost importance. Her soon-to-be 4-year-old son Nathan was 12 months old when he was diagnosed with a severe allergy to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.

Her team, named Nate the Great, is raising money by making and selling bracelets known as Rainbow Looms in Nathan’s favorite color, green.

 “It is very important to spread the word about food allergies,” said Alberti. “But even though there has been a lot of dialogue about food allergies, there are many people who do not understand it. People need to be educated.”

Alberti and her family learned firsthand the degree of ignorance many people have concerning food allergies. She said she has had experience with other parents and even schools that did not understand the severity of the situation – and she is now very direct when explaining her son’s situation.

“I’ve had somebody say they didn’t think it was fair that their kid was not allowed to have peanut butter in school,” she said. “I have to explain that even one little piece could kill my son. I use words like death because that seems to get through to people. Does your kid need peanut butter that badly?”

According to FARE, severe food allergy affects up to 15 million people in the country, including one in 13 children. The most severe type of reaction, anaphylaxis, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, trouble breathing, dizziness and possibly death.

These anaphylactic episodes must be treated with a hormone called epinephrine, which can be injected via a life-saving tool known as an EpiPen – something that Alberti has with her at all times.

“I hope I never have to use it,” she said. “You have to always be constantly aware of who is eating what and where they are. You cannot slack ever.”

Alberti said it is also important to train family and friends in what to do in case of an allergic reaction. She said her husband Nick, plus Nathan’s grandparents and babysitters must all known what to do if the unthinkable happens.

Even young Nathan knows not to accept food from anyone without his parents checking it out first because he knows that some foods will make him sick.

Nathan attends a daycare at ACDS in Plainview where his safety receives the attention it needs. It’s a far cry from his first daycare facility, where staff did not know how to handle Nathan’s allergies during a Thanksgiving Day party.

“The director told me not to bring him in that day, which honestly, was a relief,” she said. “But they never said anything to me about bringing in food, I had to contact them. A month later I pulled him out.”

Leading up to the FARE walk, Nathan’s 6-year-old brother Micahael is busy making and selling bracelets to help researchers find a cure for food allergies, thereby helping his brother – along with millions of others across the country.

“We’re asking everyone we know to spread the word to everyone they know,” she said.

The walk at Eisenhower Park walk is about two miles long and takes place rain or shine on October 13. Registration is from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and the walk starts immediately after a ceremony at 1 p.m.

To donate to team Nate the Great, check out the team Facebook page at or search “Nate the Great” on