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Extreme Athlete, Extreme Allergies

Mike Monroe did a 24-hour indoor row-a-thon to raise money for extreme allergy sufferers, such as his 8-year-old son.

Extreme athlete Mike Monroe is rowing for a cause — to raise awareness and money for kids like Miles Monroe, his 8-year-old son who suffers from extreme food allergies.

Monroe partnered with McLean-based Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to do a 24-hour indoor row-a-thon as a way to boost the issue of allergies.

He’s no stranger to physical exertion — he’s competed in seven Iron Men contests, a 500-mile bike ride and a 15-mile trek across the Sahara desert to name a few — all to raise funds for different causes. So far, he’s raised a total of $350,000 for all kinds of causes.

Monroe, a former Marine, began rowing Friday morning at Old Town’s Sport & Health club.

Monroe's son, Miles, can’t eat wheat, rye, dairy and mustard to name just a few of his allergies.

Miles told Patch he believes in his dad for helping fund research for allergies.

“I just want to be a normal kid,” he said. If his family eats at a restaurant, his mom cooks beforehand and brings food for Miles.

“I can’t eat school lunches or pretty much anywhere outside my house,” he said.

His mom said, “If this is our biggest medical challenge, I will gladly take it, but it’s hard some times and people need to realize allergies can be life-threatening.”

Mike Monroe said: “I am doing this for my son, who crushes my soul every time he says he just wants to be a regular kid. I am fueled to reach my fundraising goal by my son and the other kids out there who suffer from food allergies.” 

John Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE, attended the event Friday afternoon. He said it’s a wonderful event for raising awareness — and dollars – for a cause.

Lehr said as allergies increase dramatically across the United States every year it’s important that there is more research and more understanding in communities and especially places like schools.

“It’s especially important in schools where we’ve found that at least one-third of children with food allergies are bullied,” Lehr said. “Allergies can be life threatening in a matter of moments.”

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