“My wife Renee and Amy Benford, Abbie’s mother grew up together in that shining oasis known as Pawtucket RI. Over the years as our families grew close I watched Abbie grow up, from a rambunctious toddler to the wonderful young woman she became. Our families spent time together, vacations and holidays together. My daughter Sarah and Abbie grew closer the more time they spent together, each seeking solace from the other in escaping the world’s greatest evil – their brothers. Abbie had an over-sized personality, with a constant smile and an infectious laugh. To say that her passing came too soon is the ultimate understatement. Spending time with Abbie over the years, cooking her food separately, preparing specials meals, buying certain foods, using 2 sets of cooking utensils, was my introduction to food allergies. I freely admit that I didn’t fully appreciate the danger that food allergies presented. Like many people I wondered if we were being too cautious, if all the extra steps were really necessary. Sadly, and shockingly I discovered how real food allergies can be. Out of the tragedy and sorrow of losing their daughter, Stephen and Amy Benford have created the Abbie Benford Memorial Fund and in conjunction with the fund have started Keepsmilin4abbie.org. The mission of KeepSmilin4Abbie.org is to provide funding for education of students, staff and the community regarding the seriousness of food allergies and anaphylaxis as well as raising awareness about the severity of anaphylactic reactions from food allergies and establish a supportive environment where afflicted people live “outside a bubble.”

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U..S. That’s roughly two in every classroom. The economic cost of children’s food allergies is nearly $25 billion per year. According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. The number of people who have a food allergy is growing, but there is no clear answer as to why.”

Greg Arnold – Family Friend

Rehoboth, MA