Thank you Tricia Gavankar for this wonderful write-up of a recent concert I had in North Carolina. Enjoy.
It was a cloudy, rainy day but Kyle Dine had over 30 NC FACES smiling and feet dancing; as he rocked the house with his food allergy educational music. North Carolina is no stranger to Kyle’s comedic puppet show, anaphylaxis education and engaging personality. This is his second appearance for the local support group, NC FACES (North Carolina Food Allergic Children Excelling Safely), and the children were buzzing with excitement as they answered questions on Kyle’s Suzie Symptom game. Parents sat back and enjoyed a rare moment as they watched their kids connect with someone seemingly intangible (almost mythological); an adult with multiple food allergies, living an extraordinary life!
As a Co-Founder of NC FACES, I coordinate many events but nothing compares to a Kyle Dine event. When my daughter (now 12) was first thrust into the land of “food can make you go to the hospital,” I was overwhelmed and would picture her life as a narrow existence filled with strict label reading, self-packed meals, stacks of declined invitations to social functions and completely devoid of travel. Then…..I heard about Kyle. Like my daughter, Kyle’s list of allergens extended well past the top 8. Only, he was an adult, the first adult I became aware of who battled an extensive list of allergens. Kyle unwittingly became my personal cheerleader as I watched his exciting life unfold; filled with extensive label reading, semi-packed meals, endless social engagements and a very well stamped passport. Frequently, I wondered if Kyle “really had food allergies” or if he was “as severe as MY child?” Sound familiar? Especially in the first stages of managing a diagnosis of food allergies, it feels incredible to think anyone could relate to the deep, painful gouge food allergies take out of our lives. Yet, Kyle seemed to understand something most of us parents could not; how it felt to “live” food allergies. So, when my fellow NC FACES Group Coordinators and I heard that Kyle was touring the US, we knew he would make a tremendous impression with our 300 members (now 500).
Teaching, educating and entertaining food allergic children and their communities, seems to be a family affair with the Dines. On his initial trip to NC FACES (2011), Kyle introduced us to his smart and beautiful fiancé (now wife), Masa who has Celiac Disease. Masa easily engaged the children in the same encouraging, reassuring manner as Kyle. This 2014 FAACT sponsored event, brought us the pleasure of meeting Kyle’s father, Steve. More than one FACES parent asked Steve how raising a confident leader in the world of food allergies (like Kyle) was possible? A non-assuming chuckle and smile preceded his humble response, “We learned so much along the way and now it is nice to see Kyle teaching others.” The origin of Kyle’s sense of humor surfaced when my daughter, Marysa, found an oddly placed, large rock in the middle of the room. Kyle’s father, not missing a beat, replied “Well this IS a rock concert!” This humor was not lost on the children, who burst into laughter.
With pink, sparkling cow-girl boots, 5 year old Zoe Smith danced along to Kyle’s music.
Despite suffering multiple unexplained episodes of anaphylaxis in the preceding weeks, Food Allergy Warrior Princess Zoe tapped her boots in a wistful, carefree rhythm. Zoey’s mother, Stephanie Smith, says that Zoey’s stress filled world melted away during the hour long concert. While Kyle views his performances as educational and fun, we (parents) see Kyle and all he does as inspiration and hope. Our kids, see Kyle as an amazing role model, someone who not only walks in their shoes-but chooses to dance those shoes through his food allergy filled life. I had to great honor of getting to put these words on paper, but kids say it all so much better…
NC FACES kids unanimously say: “ Kyle Dine Rocks!”
NC FACES parents: “We couldn’t agree more!”
Trish Gavankar, RN, BS
NC FACES, Co-Founder,
Disney Chefs Rock Food Allergies, Founder,
Mom to: Food Allergy Warrior Princess Marysa
PS: Princess Zoey has moved on to animal prints (good choice!), so Kyle, we have an extra pair of sparkly boots-if you need to dress up your wardrobe!