CLEVELAND — Michael Suhy has many positions. He’s the fire chief in Cuyahoga Heights and the co-founder of the Allison Rose Foundation. But perhaps his most important title is Allison’s father.

What You Need To Know

  • One in 13 children in the United States has a food allergy, according to the Food Allergy Research and Education organization.

  • More than 5 years ago, an Ohio University student died after an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. 

  • Since then, her family created the Allison Rose Foundation in her honor to educate others about prevention.

  • The organization’s annual fundraiser that allows them to offer free education and stock epinephrine up on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Embassy Suites in Independence.

He spoke to a class at his alma mater: Cuyahoga Heights High School.

“She was a cheerleader," he said. "She was in the school plays. She worked at autism camp. You know, she was the oldest sister. She exemplifies that. Her younger brother and sister looked up to her."

(Photo Courtesy Allison Rose Foundation)

His daughter was diagnosed with a severe nut allergy as a toddler. Most of her reactions growing up were controlled by Benadryl.

But her allergy would later claim her life when she was a freshman at Ohio University in 2017.

Allison was studying to become an early childhood teacher and her dad came to celebrate “Dad’s Weekend” with her in November.

Just a few hours after he left, Allison had a fatal anaphylactic reaction.

“I met her at the med center," he said. "She was unconscious. We made the decision to have her transported north by helicopter to Columbus to get her more treatment. But unfortunately, the lack of oxygen she sustained during her reaction, Allison lost her life."

His family’s life changed forever.

“It never gets easier, but it’s also the most important thing we do is to tell that story," he said.

The Suhys created a foundation in her memory to help educate others about food allergies and the best ways to prevent another tragedy.

“Cause it is very preventable. Knowing the signs and symptoms and then knowing how to use an auto-injector," said Suhy.

Since 2018, the Allison Rose Foundation has offered free training to students and staff at more than 60 school districts and colleges in Ohio.

The training centers on education about food allergies, reaction prevention methods, and how to use an EPIPEN and AUVI-Q devices properly.

First responders and medical professionals lead the courses, and the foundation provides stock epinephrine to schools, too.

Suhy said there’s been a big impact. He remembers a letter from the Canton City School District.

“After our training, they had a student who ate something they shouldn’t have and everybody jumped into action," he said. "They went and got their stock epi and went and have the epinephrine and the outcome was positive. You know everyone survived and was healthy."

The Allison Rose Foundation passed the “Allison Rose Act” in 2021. 

The Ohio Law offers incentives to school districts who provide food allergy training to students and staff. 

Suhy said while the severity of food allergies hasn’t changed, treatment plans have, which is why continued education is key.

“When Allison was diagnosed, the action plan was: give Benadryl, if needed use epinephrine," he said. "Where now science has improved and action plans have changed, where now it’s epinephrine only. Benadryl is not in that action plan at all. So, you know, knowing that science has changed and us going out and talking to students, and parents, and families and staff abut that to let them know if that is your action plan that needs to change. It needs to be epinephrine only."

This father misses his daughter but is proud to carry on her legacy of helping others.

“Seeing us do this, her name up there, she would love it," he said. "She would love every minute of it."

The Allison Rose Foundation is now expanding its training to other states and is branching out to restaurants, too. 

The organization’s annual fundraiser that allows them to offer free education and stock epinephrine is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Embassy Suites in Independence.

More than 350 community members and food allergy experts are expected to attend.