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Mississauga woman’s advocacy makes Blue Jays games unforgettable for families

By  Radhika Panjwani from the Mississauga News

MISSISSAUGA— It all began with a Mississauga mother’s quest to help her sons experience the excitement and fun of cheering their home team in an arena without having to worry about a fatal allergy attack.

Now, three years later, Debbie Bruce, co-director, Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative Mississauga Anaphylaxis Group (MAG) education and advocacy, can look back at her accomplishment with pride.

On Sunday, June 29, four local MPs — Minister for Sports Bal Gosal (Bramalea-Gore-Malton), Brad Butt (Mississauga-Streetsville) and Stella Ambler (Mississauga South) and Bob Dechert (Mississauga-Erindale)— will be joining Bruce and other families  in the peanut/nut reduced section of the Roger Centre for a Blue Jays game.

Thanks to the support of these MPs, the Anaphylaxis Motion-230 was unanimously passed by parliament May 22, Bruce said. The motion proposes to raise awareness of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, to help sufferers lead a higher quality of life.

“The Blue Jays have worked hard to make this a special experience for our families and we are very grateful,” she said. “We have had people travel from all over Ontario and the U.S. to enjoy a ballgame in in this section. One family travelled from New York just so their son could experience a ball game in the stadium – just like everyone else. Also, there was a young girl celebrating her 21st birthday with 16 of her friends. She said it is the first game she has been able to attend in 11 years.”

It was in 2008 when the Blue Jays first provided a luxury suite where peanuts/nuts were not allowed. That year, the three dates set aside for families and people with nut allergies were almost sold out so they added a fourth date and the initiative has grown from there.

When Bruce first proposed opening up a whole section for allergy sufferers, the Blue Jays were worried about their ability to provide a completely “nut-free” environment throughout the stadium, but when the Mississauga woman assured them the families only wanted a space where people were not shelling peanuts around them, the management became amenable.

For the past three years, families have not only been able to enjoy the game, but the Blue Jays have enhanced the experience for people by ensuring the nut/peanut free section has its own designated concession stand and washrooms. There is also a paramedic on duty and the neighbouring section is left unsold to provide a buffer zone.

Other home game dates offering the peanut/nut-controlled section are July 20 (Texas Rangers), Aug. 24  (Tampa Bay) and Sept. 14 (Tampa Bay).

For tickets and information visit here.


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