Elmhurst mom hopes EpiPens can spare others her sorrow

Posted8/26/2017 1:00 AM
  • Shelly LeGere ties ribbons on a tree honoring her daughter, Annie, last summer at Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst.

    Shelly LeGere ties ribbons on a tree honoring her daughter, Annie, last summer at Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst. Daily Herald file photo/August 2016

This is a sad and painful week for Shelly LeGere.

Saturday marks the second anniversary of the death of her 13-year-old daughter, Annie, from an allergic reaction suffered at a slumber party.

"Every day is difficult for me," Shelly said Friday, "but this week has been a real struggle."

During the hardest of times, though, there has been an ever-so-slight easing of the pain with the news that a pair of Elmhurst doctors have cleared the way for her city's police department to become among the first in the state to equip its officers with EpiPens that can be used to save the lives of those who, like Annie, suffer from multi-system allergic reactions.

The legislation making it possible for police to carry epinephrine auto-injectors -- called the Annie LeGere Law -- was passed more than a year ago, shortly before the first anniversary of Annie's 2015 death.

But until now, liability concerns for the doctors who prescribe EpiPens for police have prevented most law enforcement agencies in Illinois from using them.

"I'm kind of sad that it took as long as it did" for Elmhurst to push ahead with plans to train and equip officers with the devices, Shelly said, "but I'm grateful to Dr. (Therese) Gracey and the doctors behind her who stepped up. Part of me is disappointed that it didn't happen sooner, but it does help ease my pain at least a little."

Shelly was at the forefront of the push to pass Annie's Law and says she's been told her efforts helped make others more aware of how dangerous allergic reactions can be -- and may have even saved lives.

"It doesn't bring my daughter back and it doesn't change my life," she said, "but the fact others can be spared" is a blessing.

This will be a tough weekend for Shelly and her family. There will be pain and tears.

It won't help to know the city's actions are coming two years too late for Annie.

But she's convinced, deep in her heart, that the long-awaited decision to equip Elmhurst cops with EpiPens got a little boost from her daughter.

"Annie helped out a lot," Shelly said. "I truly believe that."

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