As the summer of 2018 comes to an end, and Labor Day is close at hand, I’d like to share how eventful this summer has been for Kelsey, and me.

Kelsey, my 41-year-old special-needs daughter is one of a kind. I feel, I know her as well as anyone knows her. Nothing surprises me.

However, this summer, I once again, learned how very unique Kelsey is.

Since Kelsey was 5 years old, she has told us repeatedly that she is allergic to strawberries.

As a result, for three plus decades, there is not one paper, one form, whether it be a hospital admission, a physical, intake, evaluation, plan, IEP, ISP, any document created for Kelsey, that doesn’t have “Kelsey is allergic to strawberries.”

How we acquired this information is not quite clear.

It seems to me, Kelsey broke out in hives when she was young, around 5 years old, after eating strawberries.

I believe Kelsey heard a family member or friend say, “Well, Kelsey must be allergic to strawberries”.

Somehow, this strawberry conversation traveled to the doctor’s office and either Kelsey’s doctor, or his nurse, put it in print, onto her permanent records.

“Kelsey Mack cannot eat strawberries because she breaks out in hives.”

We never had any testing done and did not send Kelsey to a specialist. Nevertheless, we did assume the hives came as a result of Kelsey eating strawberries.

Hence, for 36 years, when asked if Kelsey was allergic to any foods, she was always quick to respond, “Yes, I am allergic to strawberries!”

Unlike Kelsey, I have no food allergies.

I like strawberries. No, I love strawberries, in a bowl with shortcake, milk, sugar, and whipped cream.

Hooray, and all the kids liked strawberries, except for Kelsey.

So when it came to strawberry shortcake, Kelsey had the shortcake, milk, sugar and whipped cream.

Never, ever, did she have one single, solitary strawberry ... for 36 straight years.

Until this summer, the summer of 2018, when she looked across the kitchen table and asked, “Can I try one of those?”

Pointing at a bowl of strawberries, on the table, Kelsey looked at her staff and smiled.

She repeated herself and politely asked if she could try one. Nearly shocked, her staff questioned Kelsey, once again with, “a strawberry?”

Kelsey proceeded to say yes, as she put a strawberry in her mouth.

She chewed. She swallowed. She smiled

And with a soft voice, she whispered, “Oh, that is good.”

Well, I was not present to see the momentous occasion. But I certainly did hear about it.

So, for the next 24 hours we waited, and watched, for hives, and we got none.

Not one hive appeared, on Kelsey’s body, anywhere. We kept checking, for a few days and then tossed in the towel.

Consequently, the best parts, of the summer of 2018, were not the dreaded heat, lack of rain, Japanese beetles, the passing of Kate Spade and Aretha Franklin, a new Supreme Court judge, the Thailand soccer team, the Golden State Warriors, plastic straws, Miss America’s swimsuit, and the release of “Incredibles 2” and “The Greatest Showman.”

It was, Kelsey ate a strawberry, and liked it.

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at