As we were about to embark on a fourteen-hour journey to the closest terrestrial point to
the stars, I realized how much I was going to need my food allergy safe Kind Raspberry Granola Clusters with Chia Seeds to get me through the journey.
"Shhhh. Be quiet for one minute" said Juan Carlos.
Silence ensued for a second before the rocks took the show from the bright spectrum of stars visible upon gaze on Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, the furthest point from Earth.
"Tik Tok, Click, Clank," Could be heard over the heavy breathing in the air like a stack of white wooden rectangular 4x4 Jenga pieces hitting the floor one by one. This time however had a little more at stake.
"I only have one chance to do this" said Gianna at dinner. "I have been training to reach the top of this summit for the past two weeks to raise awareness for the orphans in Ecuador using all my savings."
Mother Nature didn't budge.
"We need to get under the big rock now!!" As Juan Carlos body shook and pupils expanded.
As we scrambled under cover Giana was cool as a cucumber, "What are the alternative routes?"
"There aren't any that will get us there in the next 36 hours. We can't go up. The avalanche is too dangerous. I'm sorry." Juan Carlos straightened his back and grimaced.
"I respect the mountain" said Gianna.
I respected Gianna more than ever at that moment. Sometimes life isn't fair and is out of our control. But it is how you react to the hand that you were dealt that in any situation that will determine whether you reach your own summit or not. Although I couldn't put myself in Gianna's shoes, I can relate to how many times I have been told I can't have something.
"We will be back one day. It is a blessing we survived. Let's use this to motivate us to be even stronger" I said at breakfast.
Hearing the words that we are not allowed to have a specific food is quite difficult and will never end. But that is out of our control. What we can do is find ways to embrace our allergies. We can create/prepare healthier and more delicious snacks than those we are told we can't have. We can come together as a community to make each other’s lives easier, build meaningful relationships, increase education of the severity of food allergies, and become stronger people because of it. Let's create happiness and positivity from our situations rather than dwell on an unfortunate situation.
We can't let food allergies define us. Let's use them as motivation to achieve our own dreams and create further purpose for everyone around us.
I know that whatever rocks life throws at me next, I will do my best to spread positivity, education, and bring people together in the food allergies community. In the meantime, I will be saving up to take Gianna and I back up to the top of Mount Chimborazo with healthy, delicious allergy-friendly snacks!
About Brandon Labella
I am a soon to be graduate of the College of William and Mary studying Finance with severe food allergies to all dairy, nuts, and fish. My purpose is to use my enthusiasm and determination to inspire others to become the best possible version of themselves and live everyday with joy, appreciation, and hope. In my free time, I love traveling around the world, playing golf, working on business ideas to positively change the world, playing sports, and hanging out with buddies.