ONALASKA, WI -

Before participating in La Crosse's Oktoberfest events, Melissa Hoffbeck, the Aurora Queen of the Snows for St Paul’s Winter Carnival, made a surprise visit to see her allergy doctor in Onalaska.

“I was a high-functioning sick person before I came here,” Hoffbeck said.

She has celiac disease, so her diet has to be gluten-free. Hoffbeck is also allergic to dairy, corn, soy, nuts, eggs, yeast, grass, pollen, ragweed, and all molds. With the guidance of Dr. George Kroker from Allergy Associates of La Crosse, Hoffbeck changed her diet and started taking allergy drops.

“They really made a difference in my ability to be outside,” Hoffbeck said. “Really, I look at it and I feel like they helped me get my life back.”

Hoffbeck wanted to thank Dr. Kroker, so she worked with her royal crew to rearrange their fest schedule so she could make a surprise appearance at his office Friday morning. She knighted him.

“I never expected to be knighted,” Dr. Kroker said with a laugh. “It’s wonderful to see someone like Melissa gain her health back.”

Hoffbeck says now she can periodically eat some of the foods she was allergic to, but she still can’t have dairy and her diet has to be gluten-free. The lifestyle change has helped her be able to carry out her royal obligations to participate in various fests, like Oktoberfest.