“I wasn’t aware, no one told me,” said Merrill. She says they weren’t aware epinephrine was the only first-line drug for anaphylaxis, not antihistamines. The family is quickly learning they aren’t the only ones.

“I don’t think my beautiful, amazing, talented, adorable son should have passed away,” said Merrill. The family has started the Red Sneaker Foundation to turn tragedy into something positive and help educate others. People throughout their community are wearing red sneakers, cleats, and hair ribbons to show support for their friend and teammate, Oakley Debbs.

Even if there are mild symptoms, experts recommend epinephrine be used immediately. Food Allergy Research & Education offers a free printable Emergency Care Plan you can download and print to review with your doctor, that outlines the signs and symptoms and what to do in case of an allergic reaction.

“The child of mine, he was a rock star, he was a good, good kid,” said Merrill. “And always in my heart of hearts, I knew that he would make a difference in his life – I just didn’t know it would be after he passed away. So that’s a big part of my driving force – the legacy of Oakley.” They are urging parents to spread awareness so this doesn’t happen to another family.