Chicago Wolves center Christian Hanson learned the hard way that you can't be too cautious or too vigilant when it comes to nut allergies.
After finishing a game with the American Hockey League's Providence Bruins last season, Hanson capped his normal postgame routine by drinking a protein shake.
If you goWhat: Chicago Wolves Peanut Awareness Days
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27; 3 p.m. Sunday, March 23
Where: Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont
Details: A section of the stadium will be power-washed and the concession stands will serve only peanut-free food
Info: (800) 843-9658 or chicagowolves.com
Unfortunately, a teammate had used the blender minutes earlier to concoct a shake that included peanut butter. The teammate tried to clean the blender out of deference to Hanson, but didn't quite finish the job. The 27-year-old Hanson ingested a trace amount of nut residue and suffered an intense reaction within minutes.
"That was fun," said Hanson, who learned of his nut allergy as a child after feeding peanuts to some ducks. "I was wearing my suit and they had to give me an EpiPen in the locker room, put me on a stretcher and wheel me out in my suit past the other team. I had to go to the hospital and spend the night."
The percentage of Americans diagnosed with food allergies has been rising steadily for years. As many as 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, including one of every 13 children younger than 18.
With that in mind, the Wolves have renewed their partnership with Enjoy Life Foods and Food Allergy Research and Education, known as FARE, for a third consecutive year to provide a pair of Peanut Awareness Days this season.
The first game is at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Allstate Arena. The second will be Sunday, March 23. Long before the puck is dropped for both games, Allstate Arena's Section 116 will be power-washed and cleaned to ensure fans with nut allergies can enjoy a game at ease. In addition, the arena's concession stands will not serve peanut-related food items.
"We are excited to again be part of this great event put on by the Chicago Wolves," said Kasey Moss, Enjoy Life Foods' senior marketing manager. "Allowing those with food allergies, whether mild or severe, to attend an event they otherwise wouldn't be able to is something Enjoy Life Foods is proud to support and be a part of."
Hanson, whose father, Dave Hanson, portrayed one of the Hanson Brothers in the movie "Slap Shot," appreciates that so many people have become cognizant of those with food allergies. Halloween, for example, is much different from it was when he grew up in Glens Falls, N.Y.
"Everything they have now is great," Hanson said. "Kids can get candy from places that are certified peanut-free and they have the bracelets and the necklaces, but I didn't have any of that because it wasn't around when I was a kid. I think my parents and my sisters loved it because I would go out on Halloween, come back with a huge pillowcase of candy, flip it over and they'd just go to town on everything that had nuts in it. I think they enjoyed Halloween more than I did."
A portion of the proceeds generated from Peanut Awareness Day will go to FARE.
For ticket information, call (800) THE-WOLVES or visit ChicagoWolves.com.