Since the foundation’s launch in November 2018, it has raised more than $100,000 and is working toward its vision to educate people about food allergies.
The foundation held a founder’s event on Jan. 26 and sold more than 700 tickets. The foundation has also been working with Ohio University to spread awareness. Currently, the foundation is working toward having a scholarship for potential freshman entering OU or students pursuing education majors, which is what Allison studied. This year, the foundation will give a scholarship to a student at Independence High School, where Allison went to high school.
Other than the scholarship, Michael and Rebecca Suhy believe a large part of the foundation is to help young adults make a safe transition from high school and living at home to college.
“When [students] grow up and you’re diagnosed with a food allergy, your parents, your family, teachers in high school, everyone kinda knows,” Michael Suhy said. “You’re kind of in like a safety net, a tight cocoon almost, and when you leave to go off to college, or to work, or even when you start driving and become more independent you have to learn to educate those around you.”
The foundation wishes to visit OU and other colleges to implement education on food allergies. This includes educating resident assistants at the dorms about being aware of residents’ allergies, making students more aware of food allergies, empowering those who have them, working with sororities and fraternities and possible presentations during freshman orientation.
“Allison loved OU, she really loved being there,” Suhy said. “When I came down for dad’s weekend it was the happiest I’d ever seen her, so she loved it, so we would love to give back to OU in anyway we could to help those with food allergies and those without to understand the severity.”
Allison’s former roommates Kelsie Somogyi, a sophomore studying middle childhood education, and Rachel Nelson, a sophomore studying early childhood education, said Allison’s allergy did not affect her life very heavily. She knew what she could and couldn’t eat on campus and she rarely mentioned her allergy in conversation. She was known to be outgoing, conversative and liked by many.
“She lit up every room she walked in. She was so funny and sincere. She cared so much about anyone and everyone that came into her life. Even like about our major, early childhood education, she cared for kids and was so excited to be a teacher,” Nelson said in an email.
Allison’s former roommates said they hope for more students to become aware of the issue of food allergies to prevent any more tragedies.
“I think it’s important because people who don’t have an allergy don’t know much about it,” Somogyi said. “I didn’t really know that many people with allergies until I met her. Everybody’s different, like some people can’t smell it. Some people can, they just can’t eat it.”
Nelson also believes more education and prevention is invaluable to the health risk of food allergies.
“It’s important to our community and everywhere because it is so preventable. If people had more knowledge about how to avoid their allergies more or even if bystanders knew how to act immediately and care for someone in anaphylaxis it could help to make sure something like this never happens again,” Nelson said in an email. “To help others not have to go through what her family has gone through. That feeling and this situation can be so preventable if everyone was knowledgeable or even maybe equipped with an emergency epipen.”
Though the Allison Rose Foundation was launched less than six months ago, Allison’s parents and former roommates believe their cause has great potential.
The foundation will continue to raise money for scholarships and education programs in honor of Allison’s life.
“The Allison Rose Foundation is just truly amazing. They took Ally’s love and passion for wanting to be a teacher and turned it into a way to teach others and educate them about this issue,” Nelson said in an email. “As new as the foundation is, it has been acknowledged in so many other places than just our community. Word is spreading pretty fast and that gets her name and story out there and people just keep passing it on to others.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include information about current scholarships the foundation is giving.