Many people have "stories" that help define who we are, what we believe in, our life struggles and our life successes. I, personally, love to hear other peoples' stories-I am highly motivated by them. By nature I am an empathetic individual and can easily insert myself into that person's story. I cry, laugh and learn from these stories. Like a sponge, I take it all in!
I was recently encouraged to tell my story of how I started my company "Just Ask Josh Gluten-Free Baked Goods"
By telling "my" story I am also telling the story of my almost 12 year old son Joshua. Josh was diagnosed with celiac disease 10 years ago when he was 2 years old. Josh was a sickly baby right from the start, initially labeled as a "failure to thrive" baby. A lot of vomiting, reflux and sleeplessness nights spent vertical in a rocking chair. We were fortunate to have had this diagnosis at such an early age. I was catapulted into the gluten-free world without much preparation. Having a medical background and armed with researching skills, I learned as much as I possibly could about this disease as well as what he could and could not eat. I baked & cooked like a fiend determined to find foods that he would eat and that we all enjoyed too! My main focus was to make Josh a healthy thriving child. When Josh entered preschool I made sure that he was eating the gluten-free version of what the other kids were eating too. Chicken nuggets on Monday- Josh had GF chicken nuggets. Mac & cheese on Tuesday well Josh had GF mac & cheese. I wanted so desperately for Josh to not feel different or less than his preschool buddies that I literally duplicated every item on the preschool lunch menu for 2 years. If the class needed cupcakes or brownies, well I made those too- gluten-free for everyone. As I was doing so I would take copious notes on what was successful and what was well just plain bad!
Finally, Josh started to gain weight and sleep through night but it took a year for us to see some real changes in Josh. Then he started to have more & more energy so much that at the age of 3 I enrolled Josh is a preschool gymnastics class. Josh would love to create these routines when he was a toddler. He was and still is very athletic and graceful. Josh loved gymnastics we went to our classes religiously. As his body continued to heal he continued to thrive and gain strength. Josh was invited to be a member of the boys gymnastics team at our local gym-he was 5 years old at the time. Fast forward 7 years to present day. Josh is still competing but is now at the gym 18 hours/ week. His body expends more energy in one night than most people do in one week. Josh is amazingly strong, talented and completely dedicated to his sport. Through the years he has had a few of his close circle of friends and family join him as a celiac. My daughter Rachel for one was diagnosed with CD 3 years ago. Josh no longer feels different or odd because of his dietary restriction.
Where does my story come in? All of those years of baking, cooking and note taking led me to start my gluten-free baked goods business! Gluten-free awareness has evolved exponentially in the last decade. This awareness has led to more products in the market-place, more diagnoses of CD and more tolerance from the community at large. I am dedicated to creating products that are not only gluten-free but are better than the gluten containing counterpart. I am excited to see what life brings to us in the next decade. Josh wants to be an Olympian! Who knows-he was just awarded the NYS all-around champion for Level 7!