MIDDLETOWN -- A Middletown family has hit the road embarking on a cross-country journey to raise awareness about food allergies. FOX 61 caught up with them during a stop in Texas. Little Shayla was diagnosed with severe food allergies when she was a baby.
"When we gave her her first bottle of formula, we were in the hospital within 30 minutes," explains mom Jennifer Braga. "She was basically one giant hive, sneezing, coughing."
"We were pretty irritated in the beginning of it all, thinking it would change our lifestyle," says Shayla's father, Jerome. "We were foolish to think that because we were really able to embrace it and do something that’s pretty amazing."
The Bragas are Connecticut-based photographers, busiest during wedding season, spring through fall. Due to Shayla's allergies, their daughters are home-schooled. So, the family has hit the road with a mission.
"Initially the idea of having an RV started because we knew we weren’t going to be able to vacation, go anywhere," explains Jerome. "We can’t travel on an airplane with Shayla’s allergies so we thought, we can get our own kitchen and bring it wherever we want."
Short trips when the girls were young garnered attention from reality TV shows and news outlets. The family realized they had a unique opportunity. So, they partnered with the perfectly free brand, creators of allergen-free snacks, to raise awareness as they travel.
"I think our biggest piece is making people aware of how severe people with certain allergies have it," says Jerome.
From Connecticut, the Bragas drove through the Carolinas and Florida. They are now in Texas and heading to New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California. They will return by May via the southern states. They're chronicling the trip on their blog: www.our1chance.com.
"This has definitely become a lifestyle mission," says Jerome. "Absolutely where we’re supposed to be."