Lawrence Student Honored By NEOFAN
The Northeast Ohio Food Allergy Network (NEOFAN) recently announced that Lawrence middle school student Charlie Kaufman '23 has been named the recipient of the first NEOFAN Teal Hero Award.
Teal Heroes embody the mission of NEOFAN to provide support, education and advocacy for families with food allergies throughout Greater Cleveland.
For his Bar Mitzvah, Charlie, who is an eighth-grade student at Lawrence, dedicated his mitzvah project to NEOFAN. In lieu of gifts, he asked friends and family to consider contributing to this organization, thereby raising dollars to support local food allergy programming. These funds will help support an upcoming book on bullying and NEOFAN's Teens for Teal, which provides opportunities for teens to meet, share experiences, learn from one another and become empowered food allergy advocates.
"At a young age, Charlie Kaufman is making a significant impact on the food allergy community in Northeast Ohio," says Abigail Glick, MD, Founder and Director of NEOFAN. "We truly appreciate this generous contribution, which will support a resource on food allergy bullying as well as strengthen NEOFAN's teen program. Beyond raising funds, as an advocate for NEOFAN, Charlie is raising awareness, creating support and promoting inclusion through his inspiring actions."
Charlie plans to share his perspective with the authors of the bullying book, which addresses the psychological impact of food allergies. He also hopes to help expand NEOFAN's Teens for Teal so teens and parents can continue discussing pressing topics, including allergic reaction prevention and management with local allergists and psychologists.
Charlie's efforts have been impacted by his own life experiences. Growing up with multiple food allergies, he uses his personal struggles to help others. He serves as a role model for his classmates and other local teens with food allergies. He sets an example for self-advocacy, carrying his own epinephrine and ordering food for himself.
As a Hawken Day Camp counselor, he spread food allergy awareness and educated staff and students on safety precautions for food service. Charlie is also a recent recipient of his school's Student of the Month Fellowship recognition for being a good friend and standing up for others.
"It's really amazing to know someone else out there is going through the same stuff, and to feel not so alone is special," Charlie shares.
His mother, Jennifer, recalls when he was younger, he experienced bullying by children who did not understand the serious consequences of contact with food allergens. He also felt left out, for instance, on school pizza days when he had to eat something different. Now, he and his friends text each other when they find new allergy-friendly foods, and they work with teachers and classmates to spread acceptance and kindness.
Originally from New York, the Kaufman family was involved in a food allergy network there before moving to Cleveland. Charlie resides in Pepper Pike with his parents and two sisters.
NEOFAN's mission is to minimize the impact of food allergies in families' lives through support, education, research and advocacy. The regional group, established for all ages and stages, provides tools to aid in the well-being of those with food allergies. Visit www.neofan.org for more information.