Adrienne Bender and her family have raised thousands of dollars for Team Gluten-Free in the past few years. One of the events that she hosted in 2015 was a benefit dinner at Eno Terra Restaurant in Kingston, NJ. The restaurant donated a portion of sales from the night and Adrienne held a raffle during the event. You can read Adrienne’s story below:

Adrienne Bender smiles with her family, wearing Team Gluten-Free shirts.

After a difficult pregnancy, here he was, our four pound six ounce first born. Despite being five weeks early and small, he was…perfect. By his third year, Alex was still small and wasn’t putting on weight, so our pediatrician, Dr. William Giasi, suggested a blood test for celiac disease and an appointment with a gastroenterologist through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. How could a child who always ate pasta and pizza have celiac disease and us, as parents, be so oblivious to it?

After a positive blood test and an endoscopy, the results were in and, in fact, Alex had celiac disease. We were upset but relieved that after minimal effort, we had an answer for Alex’s growth issues. That night, after it all sunk in, I cried for him.

I cried for the struggles he would face, the children’s birthday parties where he would need to bring his own food, the need to always worry if what he would eat would hurt him, and the feelings he may have of being different.

After a few weeks on a gluten free diet, I saw Alex have more energy and a better attitude. At only three years old, maybe he never knew what feeling good meant and could never express any pain he had.

This made me hopeful that with more time on a gluten free diet, Alex would be 100% healthy. At nearly six years old, I am happy to report that Alex continues to excel and is happy to teach his friends about eating gluten free.

After Alex’s diagnosis, I knew I wanted to partner with an organization to help raise awareness and funds for celiac disease. In the years since, we have raised thousands of dollars and educated many people.