Once upon a time, I knew exactly where I was going in life.
My dream since third grade was to become a teacher. And I’m happy and proud to say that it came true. After I earned my master’s degree in Special Education from NIU, I began to teach second and third grade in Skokie, Illinois.
I loved teaching – and while I wasn’t able to become a principal or superintendent like my Type A self had planned, I was able instead to leverage my skills and education into advocacy and awareness for food allergies.
When my oldest son, Bryan, was six months old, he took his first sip of milk-based formula and nearly died. My life, and the life of my husband, Dave, changed forever.
Our son, and now his brother, Daniel, are among the 32 million Americans with food allergies. That’s one in every 13 children.
As a mother, I followed my heart to a new calling – to awareness, to understanding and, maybe most importantly, to advocacy regarding food allergies to comfort and empower other parents. I created a support group, lobbied state lawmakers to enact food allergy guidelines for schools and co-authored a book.
Now that my sons are adults, and both thriving, I’m not done. I know the impact that advocacy can make. I stay fully engaged to help other children and families find great outcomes like ours, because anything I can do – or that you can do – to make a food-allergic child’s life better is a win for all of us.
I’m Denise Bunning, and that’s my perspective.