The Story Behind the Challenge

The idea to start a fundraiser was first planted in Kathleen O’Hagan‘s head, in September 2017 when Andrea Waserman of CAAIF reached out. Andrea was hoping AllergyBites might help spread the word about their yearly gala (to raise money for allergy research) and mentioned that their organization was looking for a more community-driven way of raising funds in future.


Around that same time, AllergyBites was approached by Jyoti Parmar, co-founder of Walk for Andrea, and asked to support their fundraiser as a sponsor. While the reason for The Walk is a tragic one, Kathleen was struck by how wonderful it was to see so many members of the food allergy community gather to honour the life of young Andrea Mariano. It hit her that day that she’d eventually like to organize something similar, but that it would need to revolve around food instead of a walk. (She’s a foodie, not an athlete!)

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The idea was firmly rooted when Kathleen had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Gray, founder of ausEE Inc. and the food allergy mama behind our Australian inspiration, the Top 8 Challenge. The moment Kathleen read about the challenge, she knew this was it. Not only would this fundraiser help raise money for allergy research, but by having participants experience “a day on the plate of” a food-allergic individual, it would help spread awareness and empathy about the day-to-day struggles of life with food allergies.

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How to participate