BURLINGTON, Vt. – Children with food allergies have obstacles to overcome in everything from their health to education and social life, so when 10 year-old Joaquin Suarez Cormier of South Burlington and his parents discovered that he had nearly thirty life-threatening food allergies, it was the beginning of a big life adjustment.
Joaquin was barely a year old when he had his first anaphylactic reaction after taking a bite of hummus. In the years since, it’s been an ever-growing list of allergies, from seeds, shellfish and nuts, to eggs, grains and herbs, to pollen, grass, cats and most dogs.
“It’s been very long, there’s been some bumps,” Joaquin said.
Joaquin’s parents, Julie and Lester, have adjusted to his needs – he can’t go to birthday parties or sleepovers, and can’t eat at most restaurants.
“Whenever we go somewhere, we have to make sure we have enough safe food to bring with us. If we go to a venue, we have to pay attention to what people are eating around us. At the movie theater, we wipe down the seats before we sit,” Julie said.
She said Joaquin has even faced bullying over his conditions.
“There’s been times where someone at his table was waving eggs in his face thinking it was a funny joke,” Julie said. “It’s been hard because of that piece of kids not understanding.”
As the list of allergies piled up, his parents knew they would impact Joaquin for the rest of his life. They found a treatment plan at the Southern California Food Allergy Institute, but it’s expensive – $200,000 and thirty cross-country trips over the next three years.
They’ve launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money and hope others will aid in giving Joaquin less challenges and a brighter future.
“He’ll be able to go to college if he wants to,” Julie said. “He won’t have to ask his partner if they’ve eaten any of those 30 foods before they kiss.”
They’ve managed to raise enough for the first three of the thirty trips, but their goal is still far away. Joaquin thanked those who have already donated.
“Not everybody gets something rare and has to treat it with something rare,” Joaquin said. “It costs a lot of money that we don’t have. I want to say thank you to all of you because it means so much to me.”