Becca and Michael Suhy founded the Allison Rose Foundation following the death of their daughter, Allison Rose Suhy, at age 18 from an anaphylactic reaction due to her severe nut allergy.
Allison Suhy was a freshman at Ohio University in Athens in November 2017, when she had just spent the weekend with her father at the university’s Dad’s Weekend. A couple hours after saying goodbye, Michael Suhy got the call that his daughter had been taken to the nearest hospital for a severe allergic reaction. She immediately had to be airlifted to a larger hospital and died a few days later from the lack of oxygen she endured.
Years later, the Suhys, who live and operate the foundation in Independence, are celebrating a small victory in memory of their daughter – the Allison Rose Act (House Bill 231) being signed into law Jan. 6 by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Michael Suhy first presented the bill, which was backed by then-State Rep. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake, to the Ohio State Senate on Dec. 16.
The bill aims to encourage school districts, and community and STEM schools to create food allergy training for staff members and students, which plays on ARF’s educational foundation, Becca Suhy said.
For Columbus Academy senior Sarah Silver, 18, who has a severe peanut and tree nut allergy, her first dive into creating change around allergy…
“This act and encouraging food allergy education in schools will allow the foundation to expand our already successful curriculum into more schools because not only is this going to be encouraged, but staff will be able to get continuing education credit for having more of this in schools,” she told the CJN. “Food allergy education should be mainstreamed since one in 13 children have one. This type of emergency is very likely to happen in a school. So, to have everyone aware of the signs, symptoms and what to do if a reaction occurs is extremely important.”
The law also helps school staff understand how to use epinephrine auto-injectors, as well as where to get these types of supplies, which Becca Suhy called “life-saving.”
She explained the act was the next logical step for ARF’s outreach for several reasons, but returned to the foundation’s focus on education.
“Education is just as important, if not more, for people without food allergies than it is for people with food allergies,” she said. “We were parents of a child with those struggles. However, we were not as educated as we could’ve or should’ve been. Therefore, it trickles down to parents knowing more. Now, we can be the pioneers for parents – to help get this information to as many people as possible. That starts in schools.”
Guided by Greenspan on how to develop the initial legislation, Becca Suhy said the process was very exciting for the foundation, even if it wasn’t as hands-on as she would have liked due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
“But the fact that we were still able to virtually participate and Mike was able to still be in person on the Senate floor was incredible,” she said. “We consider this to be an accomplishment, not only for the food allergy community, but for Ohio as a whole.”
And thinking of the change the law could bring about, Becca Suhy thinks back to their daughter.
“Allison was going to school for early childhood education, she wanted to help people,” Suhy said. “So, the fact that we’re still allowing her to help people, even with her not being here, is extremely emotional and bittersweet for us. We think about Allison every single day, multiple times a day, and it puts things into perspective.”