ASTHMA, ALLERGY NONPROFITS TO MERGE AND FIGHT COMMON DISEASES TOGETHER
Group Will Expand Traditional Outreach and Online Communities, the Combination Patients Want
(Washington, DC, February 15, 2013) The patient organization with the largest online community for families raising children with food allergies, and the largest organization for asthma & allergy patients intend to merge.
The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA) will become a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and together they will be the most comprehensive nonprofit source of education, advocacy, research, social networking and support for millions of families living with these diseases.
In 2012 the Board of Directors for each organization voted to approve the merger. The required regulatory documents have been filed and partially approved, with completion expected soon.
60 Years, 60 Million People
More than 60 million Americans are living with asthma and allergic diseases – including over 13 million children and adults with food allergies. The prevalence of these chronic diseases has grown dramatically over the past few decades making asthma and allergies some of the most common chronic diseases among all ages. Unfortunately, deaths related to asthma and severe life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) continue to occur.
It is well understood that people with asthma have an increased chance of having food allergies, and people with food allergies have an increased chance of having asthma. In addition, children and adults with foodallergies are more likely to have an anaphylactic reaction if they also have asthma.
The guidelines for diagnosis, prevention and management of asthma and food allergies put patient awareness and education at the center of quality care and positive outcomes. Teaching families how to prevent symptoms or attacks, handle emergencies, properly use treatments and care for children with these diseases is critical. “Patient education is key,” says Tom Flanagan, Immediate Past Chair of AAFA's National Board of Directors and a parent of children with severe asthma and food allergies. “AAFA and KFA are two of the most respected sources of this type of information and education,” says Flanagan, “so this merger will be a great fit for both groups, and great news for the patient community.”
A Modern Approach to a Growing Problem
AAFA is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year and remains committed to its original mission of education, advocacy and research. AAFA was founded in 1953 at a time when asthma and allergies were first recognized as a national health crisis in the U.S. “We have not wavered in our fight against asthma and allergies,” says Bill McLin, AAFA's President & CEO. “Over the past six decades, knowledge about these diseases, methods of patient support and educational tools have evolved,” says McLin, “so bringing KFA into the AAFA family will help both organizations meet the growing needs of the people we serve.”
Founded in 2005, KFA has become an essential part of the food allergy and anaphylaxis community offering patient education programs, webinars, an allergy buyers' guide, an electronic database of allergen-free recipes and more to help keep children safe and healthy. Most notably, KFA hosts the largest and most active online food allergy and anaphylaxis community at www.kidswithfoodallergies.org, a critical platform for parents and caregivers who want to network with others about raising kids with food allergies and related diseases.
Lynda Mitchell, KFA's President and founder, is the parent of a son with severe asthma and food allergies. She will join AAFA's leadership team as Senior Director of KFA. She will oversee KFA programs within AAFA to ensure their continuation. Mitchell will also help expand AAFA's online programs and services in related disease areas such as asthma. “As part of AAFA, KFA will continue all of our current work, and with our combined mission of education, advocacy, and research we will be able to do even more to help families,” says Mitchell. “Families raising children with food allergies are often also dealing with anaphylaxis, asthma, latex allergies, skin allergies, nasal allergies and many related conditions. Together we will be the most comprehensive and reliable source for people seeking information and support for all of these issues.”
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the oldest and largest nonprofit patient organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions through education, advocacy and research. For more information about AAFA, KFA and to see our merger FAQs visit www.aafa.org/kfa, or call 1-800-7-ASTHMA.
AAFA External Affairs, Angel Waldron, Senior Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-466-7643, x248
• What is AAFA?
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the oldest and largest nonprofit organization in the world dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergies – including food allergies and anaphylaxis – through education, advocacy and research. AAFA is the only allergy organization on the National Health Council (NHC), and the only patient organization that provides research funding for both asthma and allergies. AAFA was part of the coordinating committee for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Food Allergy Guidelines as well as for the NIH Asthma Guidelines. Visit AAFA at www.aafa.org.
• What is KFA?
Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA) is a national nonprofit organization focused on educating families and communities about practical food allergy management, anaphylaxis prevention, and emergency treatment to save children's lives and improve their quality of life. KFA hosts the largest and most active online community for families raising children with food allergies at www.kidswithfoodallergies.org.
• What does asthma have to do with food allergies?
It is well understood that people with asthma have an increased chance of having food allergies, and people with food allergies have an increased chance of having asthma. In addition, children and adults with food allergies are more likely to have an anaphylactic reaction if they also have asthma.
Many KFA families are already living with asthma, and are seeking asthma information and support. Bringing AAFA and KFA together is a natural combination to meet the needs of both the AAFA and KFA communities.
• Why are AAFA and KFA merging?
As AAFA and KFA have collaborated in recent years, we know our missions are aligned and our focus on patients and families is similar. After careful consideration, the leadership teams of AAFA and KFA have determined that together we can do even more for the asthma and allergy communities. We have a joint mission – keeping children and families safe and healthy for a "life without limits."
Together we can more effectively continue to deliver on that mission, leveraging the current programs and services of both AAFA and KFA. Plus, AAFA's strong experience and programs in research, public policy and advocacy will help KFA to become better and stronger in these two areas. Helping to support more research for a food allergy cure and fighting for patients' rights at school or in public places is a great way for AAFA and KFA to do more for the food allergy community.
• Why is the merger good for my family?
Millions of people already rely on AAFA each year for education and support for asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis and related diseases. And millions of people already rely on KFA for education and support for food allergies, anaphylaxis, asthma and related diseases. Now we're bringing these nationwide communities of allergic diseases together so we can share more information, provide expanded services and connect more families.
• When will the merger be effective?
AAFA and KFA have been working for many months to complete merger paperwork and approvals so today we can hit the ground running – to focus on you and the work ahead. In 2012 the Board of Directors for each organization voted to approve the merger. The required regulatory documents have been filed and partially approved, with completion expected soon.
• What will the merged organization be called?
The organization will keep the AAFA name, and KFA will become “Kids With Food Allergies, a division of AAFA.”
• What changes will I notice?
None. KFA will continue to run all of its existing programs and services, including ACCESS KFA and its award-winning community website, and AAFA will continue to run all of its existing programs and services. As a supporter of AAFA or KFA you will continue to have access to all the same resources and programs that you did prior to the merger. In addition, both communities of supporters will be invited to get more involved in the merged activities and benefit from the combined resources of AAFA and KFA.
• Is my status as a donor or supporter going to change?
No. AAFA and KFA are dedicated to offering resources to families living with asthma and allergies, and recognize the importance of continuing to offer information to all who need it. For those who are "Family Members" of KFA you will continue to have expanded access to the online tools and resources which you currently enjoy.
• Can I still donate to AAFA or KFA, and will my donations still go to the programs I want to support?
Yes. You can still donate directly to AAFA or KFA. All donations you continue to make to KFA will be used to support KFA's programs that are dedicated to saving lives and keeping children with food allergies safe and healthy. And all donations to AAFA will continue to support AAFA's overall work, as well.
• Who are the leaders and staff?
AAFA's National Board of Directors is an all-volunteer group of parents, patients, business leaders, doctors and researchers who guide the strategic direction of the organization. Members from KFA's Board will join the AAFA Board, and the KFA Medical Advisory Board will continue to serve AAFA and KFA.
AAFA has a full-time staff of health educators, policy experts, public health professionals and others, including President & CEO, Bill McLin. KFA's founder, Lynda Mitchell – the parent of a son with severe asthma and food allergies – is thrilled to be joining AAFA's senior team as Senior Director of KFA, and other KFA staff will become part of the AAFA team, as well. In addition, AAFA has a national network of Regional Chapters, Educational Support Groups and Community Awareness Partner Clinics which will all help to expand KFA's current reach and influence.
• Where will the offices be located?
AAFA's national office will continue to operate out of the Washington, DC, suburbs in Landover, MD. KFA will continue to operate from Doylestown, PA.
• Will the website locations, or Facebook pages change?
No. Both popular websites www.aafa.org and www.kidswithfoodallergies.org will remain and grow, and we will expand and share content on both in the years ahead. AAFA's Facebook page will remain at www.facebook.com/AAFANational. KFA's Facebook page will remain at www.facebook.com/kidswithfoodallergies and we will share content and postings.
• Can I still get support on KFA's forums?
Yes. KFA's forums will remain and grow at the same location, community.kidswithfoodallergies.org. We look forward to continuing to expand participation in the forums in the year
• Will KFA still have a mobile app?
Yes. KFA's community and its mobile app will remain available.
• Will the KFA Philadelphia event take place in 2014?
Yes. KFA's 6th Annual Strides for Safe Kids Mall Walk and Expo will be at Plymouth Meeting Mall (PA) on Sunday, September 7, 2013. Save the date and join us!
• Where can I go for more information?
To contact AAFA directly, to learn more about the merger or to see a copy of the official press release, please visit www.aafa.org/, or call 1-800-7-ASTHMA. To contact KFA directly, please visit www.kidswithfoodallergies.org or call 215-230-5394.
• I'm from the media and would like to arrange interviews with people from AAFA and KFA. Who should I contact?
Please visit www.aafa.org/ or call 202-466-7643.