Dum Dums Drum Man Visits Boy with Rare Eating Disorder
South Bend, IN August 29, 2005:
The Dum Dum Drum Man, mascot of the Spangler Candy Company, traveled to South Bend today to visit with Zach Zmyslo and his family and friends. The special event at Corpus Christi Catholic School included presentations and games involving nearly 300 children, from preschoolers through fifth graders, with Zach joining the Drum Man as the "star of the show."
Zach, a second grader at Corpus Christi, suffers from a rare disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis. Because of the disorder, many of the foods that Zach eats cause severe inflammation of his esophagus. From the time he was old enough to eat, many of the foods he tried caused vomiting, diarrhea, and/or cramping. Zach, his parents, Christine and Dennis Zmyslo, and his doctors are continually searching, through trial and error and process of elimination, to determine what foods he can eat. One treat they have discovered he can eat is Dum Dum Pops, made by the Spangler Candy Company.
When Tonya Rhodes, one of Zach's former teachers, learned that Dum Dum Pops was one of the only treats Zach could eat, she wrote a letter to Spangler Candy Company, located in Bryan, Ohio, asking if they might send something to encourage Zach during this ongoing battle against illness. At the same time, South Bend television station WNDU featured a story on Zach, which was brought to the attention of Jeff Devlin, Central Region Sales Director at Spangler.
"It was impossible to not be impressed by this brave little boy," said Diana Moore Eschhofen, Brand & Public Relations Manager at Spangler. "Jeff Devlin immediately suggested we take the Dum Dum Drum Man to visit Zach at his school. We made a few phone calls, and here we are!" "Of course, we are pleased that Zach can eat Dum Dum Pops. Our company takes great pride in making quality confectionary products.
But the real story here is about a little boy and his family facing incredibly difficult challenges every day, and about the children and adults that are supporting him," Eschhofen said. Zach's classmates and teachers understand that he is not able to eat the treats that come in for birthdays or other special occasions. So his classroom has a large container of Dum Dum Pops always at the ready, so Zach can have a treat, too. "We truly appreciate Spangler's attention to this & willingness to make Zach feel special," said Christine Zmylso, Zach's mother. "For just being 7 years old, he has had to deal with some really tough things. Just not being able to eat what others are eating and having to do this in a society that is so focused on food is something that Zach has to deal with every day of his life. We have been so proud of him, because he really deals with all of this very gracefully."
Zach's grace was evident during the Dum Dum Drum Man's appearance, as he assisted the Drum Man and companions during a trivia contest. Zach looked as happy as anyone as he helped distribute prizes to his schoolmates.
Zach's disease is a rare disease that has only been recognized for about 10 years, so many physicians overlook it or have never heard of it. "Zach suffered for the first six years of his life because of it," Mrs. Zmyslo said. "Even though his diet is severely limited, it has been a blessing that he has finally been properly diagnosed and is receiving the proper treatment. However, his bellyaches are not over, since we are now going through a process of trying one food at a time to see what he will be able to eat and not. He will always probably require some sort of dietary supplement."
The Dum Dum Drum Man, joined by Eschhofen and Devlin, also distributed information from the American Parnership for Eosinophilic Disorders, the organization that is completing research & trying to increase public awareness about Zach's disease, and from Sean Jameson, Clinical Research Coordinator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
"Spangler Candy Company is pleased to do a little bit to help Zach and his family. We hope that our efforts might motivate others to reach out as well," said Jeff Devlin.
In addition to Dum Dum Pops, Spangler Candy produces a large line of quality confections including Saf-T-Pops, Circus Peanuts, Spangler Chocolates, Valentine, Easter, Halloween & Christmas Candies, traditional Candy Canes and Cane Classics. The company will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2006.
Contact: Diana Moore Eschhofen, Brand & Public Relations Manager
Phone: (888) 636-4221, ext. 252