Approximately 12 years ago, my son Rusty became ill with what was initially diagnosed as a stomach virus. Rusty was later diagnosed with E. coli O157. I recall the doctor telling me this news and I immediately thought my son may not survive this. I will never forget the sense of helplessness, watching my baby in such pain due to a foodborne illness. As a parent, I felt responsible for his illness. We later found that Rusty contracted his E. coli from a local restaurant.
I got involved with STOP so I could learn ways to help others. I’ve grieved reading stories of so many, young and old alike, who’ve lost their battles with foodborne illnesses. Rusty and I have been inspired by everyone at STOP and are so thankful for their support!
Rusty and I were invited to speak at the FSMA meetings in Portland, Oregon on behalf of STOP. We were thrilled to tell our story and to hear others. Hearing my son recall his experience inspired me to do more.
Currently, I’m a secretary for an all kindergarten school in Alpine, CA. Rusty is a junior in high school and loves guitars, cross country and track. Rusty hopes to attend college at Point Loma Nazarene University.
As the voice of people affected by foodborne illness, we collaborate with partners in academia, the food industry, and government to prevent foodborne illness. We advocate for effective food safety policy and facilitate culture change to increase food safety.