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Severely Allergic Girl to Share Her Story With Senators

Severely Allergic Girl to Share Her Story With Senators

Lia Russell | The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.

Six years ago, Donna Sadler gave her 18-month-old daughter, Rylee, a taste of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Spots popped up on the child’s face, and within seconds, her eyes swelled shut.

Rylee’s doctor suspected the cause and testing confirmed her theory: Rylee has a deadly allergy to peanuts, as well as sesame seeds and all tree nuts.

Ingestion triggers the most serious reaction, but simply coming in contact with a trace of peanut residue could cause her skin to react.

Donna and Michael Sadler turned to doctors, advocacy groups and other community resources to learn how to live with their daughter’s potentially life-threatening allergy. Now Rylee, 7, who lives with her family in Ocean View, wants to help others who share her condition.

This week, the Holy Trinity School second-grader and her parents will go to Washington, D.C., where she will serve as a junior ambassador for the 2009 Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Kids’ Congress to be held Wednesday and Thursday.

Rylee was one of about 80 children, ages 6 to 18, selected nationally to meet with legislators, including Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb and U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye, to share her experiences with food allergies.

With her mother’s help, Rylee filled out a junior ambassador application, complete with an endorsement letter from Nye, a family friend on whose campaign Rylee worked last fall. FAAN, which advocates on behalf of more than 12 million Americans with food allergies, hopes the children will encourage lawmakers to pass allergy legislation for schools and fund food allergy research.

Rylee plans to talk about her reactions, the restrictions she faces and how she has helped her classmates at Holy Trinity learn about food allergies.

“Every year, my mom and I hold a special meeting at school,” Rylee said. “We make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an allergic reaction.” As a result of her efforts, Holy Trinity pulled all peanut products from its cafeteria.