*My Cause, My Cleats is an NFL initiative that allows players to design cleats in honor of charities they care about. This year, a number of Patriots will be wearing custom-made cleats that represent causes close to their hearts for the game in Buffalo this weekend. Before they do, Lifestyle is bringing you some of the stories behind the cleats. *
Parenting for Alan Branch and his wife changed entirely when their daughter was diagnosed with serious and life-threatening food allergies. Everything from packing lunches to having guests over to trick-or-treating has to be prefaced with what is and is not allowed safely in their home.
On Sunday, Alan will use his platform in the NFL to highlight the struggles that those who deal with food allergies and their families face on a daily basis, supporting Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) for My Cause, My Cleats.
FARE works to raise awareness about food allergies, educate the general population to be more cognizant of them and to help those living with allergies to live full and productive lives.
"FARE is actually really important. It hits close to home. My daughter has allergies to certain foods," Alan said. "If you're a new parent or a parent that's never had to deal with allergies, going into it changes your whole world, your thought process and thinking of what food you can have in the house, the life or death scare if your kid consumes certain food."
Though food allergies are common, Alan said he feels most people who aren't directly impacted are unaware of how dangerous a simple snack can be. It goes much further than controlling what his daughter eats.
"We can't have certain foods in the house at all. We can't have peanuts or any type of nut in the house," he said "Letting guests come to the house, we have to tell them what they can and cannot bring. Literally everything that has to do with other people interacting with my family, we have to give them the dos and don'ts of what's going on in the household."
With My Cause, My Cleats, Alan hopes to shine a light on food allergy awareness so people understand how they can make a difference.
"I hope they take away the severity of what it is and just gain knowledge. When one person gets knowledge, a lot of times it gets passed along and it just helps raise awareness," Alan said. "I don't know why it's not bigger than it is right now, but I feel like it's one of the bigger things that should be on the forefront of everybody's minds."