When all the dust settles, you may have a 10-year-old boy from McDonough, Georgia to thank for getting you relief for a chronic digestive problem. The boy is Ricky Springer and he has had digestive problems since he was less than two years old.
His mother, Julie, took him from doctor to doctor -- 18 in all -- before they got a handle on the problem: something in his diet was triggering his body to make cells called eosinophils to inappropriately cause inflammation and pain in his digestive tract.
In Ricky’s case, a lot of trial and error has uncovered that the “bad guys” --the triggers -- are corn, eggs and tomatoes. But for someone else it could be different and it could be very subtle.
For example, Ricky’s brother, Rusty Jr., has trouble with milk if it comes from a different dairy. Some people have trouble not with wheat but with bleached wheat.
So how is Ricky helping you or your child? When he was three years old, Ricky put a sticker on his dirt track go-cart. It was for the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (www.APFED.org), a nonprofit organization that supports people with eosinophilic digestive problems.
People started noticing the sticker and Ricky asked them to contribute to the cause. He also educated them about the often-overlooked health problem. Soon other kids wanted to display the stickers and talk up the topic, then older kids, and then even NASCAR drivers including #51, Jeremy Clements.
This led to forming “Racing for a Cause," an awareness and fundraising campaign to support APFED.
Since the campaign began in 2009, more than five million people have been educated about eosinophil-associated disorders through events and media. In 2010, Ricky established the Racing for a Cause Team, with 12 racers and two race teams representing three countries, helping to further create awareness of these diseases.
Ricky’s mother says the message is simple: something in your food or the way it was processed could be sparking your own body’s cells to react and cause pain, discomfort and even permanent scarring of your gastrointestinal tract. And your doctor may overlook it.