With a little paint and a lot of love, dozens of families turned their pumpkins teal in support of the Teal Pumpkin Project, something we like to talk about a lot, at Advanced, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. It’s especially important to us because we see and treat so many kids and adults with milk, egg, tree nut, soy, dairy, wheat and other allergies. We also have nearly two dozen, what we call, ‘Food Allergy Fighters’ – kids who are fighting back against their peanut allergy with a treatment called OIT. This year, we invited our Food Allergy Fighters to help us promote the Teal Pumpkin Project and Dr. Dinger‘s Paint-A-Pumpkin-Teal events.
In case you are reading this and are not already familiar with the Teal Pumpkin Project, it entered its third year this fall. The FARE initiative was actually inspired by the efforts of a mother in Tennessee, who wanted to make Halloween more inclusive for her food-allergic child. Her idea grew into what is now recognized world-wide as a movement to make Halloween safer and more fun for all children.
The idea is simple: Place a teal pumpkin on the porch and have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters. You can still give out chocolate and candy! The Teal Pumpkin project encourages families to offer, an alternative to candy, in support of the 1 in thirteen kids, today, who have food allergy.
At Advanced Allergy, we believe the Teal Pumpkin Project is picking up momentum.
That was evident, this year, as we saw stores like Michael’s and Walgreens selling Teal Pumpkin Project pumpkins!
Still, Dr. Patricia Gomez Dinger and her team want to make it even easier. Easier? Yes, easier so that as many people as possible participate! That was our thinking behind creating the Dr. Dinger’s Paint-A-Pumpkin-Teal event. First, we love the idea of helping kids and families paint pumpkins teal, because, by doing so, the Advanced Allergy team is allowed the opportunity to talk about The Teal Pumpkin Project, sharing facts, statistics, and stories over a fun and festive craft. In addition, by inviting our food allergy patients to help with growing awareness to Teal Pumpkin, we allow them to talk about their food allergy. It is quite a beautiful thing to watch our patients feel empowered and be a part of a solution.
This year, 12-year-old Byrne, who is severely allergic to peanut and suffered a near-fatal reaction after eating candy at the age of three, appeared on WOAI-TV News 4 San Antonio’s Evening Break with Dr. Dinger and spoke with anchorman, Randy Beamer to promote our Paint-A-Pumpkin-Teal events for the Teal Pumpkin Project. Byrne told Mr. Beamer that there were many years he did not even go Trick-Or-Treating. It was too risky. It was too nerve-wracking. The chance he might accidentally come into contact with peanut, even a trace of it, took most of the fun out of what is typically one of the most thrilling nights of year for children. Byrne said he wished the Teal Pumpkin Project had been around when he was younger.
Byrne did so well! We are extremely proud of him!
Another Food Allergy Fighter, Hailey, helped Advanced Allergy paint pumpkins teal at the second of two Paint-A-Pumpkin-Teal events at Bulverde United Methodist Church, this year. Hailey painted, decorated, and made families smile as she helped families put some amazing touches of teal onto pumpkins to take home. Proceeds from the pumpkins purchased at the church’s pumpkin patch went to the church’s youth programs.
Advanced Allergy donated several small pumpkins and provided all the teal paint kids would need in several fun shades, including a metallic teal which was by far a crowd favorite! Many kids chose to also decorate their teal pumpkins with fun stickers and designs.
Also this year, Advanced Allergy was super excited to sponsor teal pumpkin painting at the FARE Walk San Antonio. Dr. Dinger donated nearly 200 pie pumpkins for painting! Also interesting to note at the FARE event, everything involved with pumpkin painting was allergy-friendly. They even used a paint mixture made from scratch that was allergen free!
“It was so exciting to support and feel the energy among the families who shared steps … and paint brushes … at the annual walk,” Dr. Dinger added.
Our Advanced Allergy team was especially proud to paint and walk with 4-year-old Cadence, one of our amazing food allergy patients, and, the official Youth Ambassador for the 2016 FARE Walk for Food Allergies! Cadence even appeared on the radio, live, the morning of the FARE Walk! Well done, Cadence!
After three years, there is little doubt that the Teal Pumpkin Project is growing. We are seeing it on the news, in more and more stores, and, most importantly, on our neighbors’ front porches. In just our three events alone, sponsored by Advanced Allergy, we estimate that over 230 pumpkins got painted teal! Think about this. That is more than 2-hundred pumpkins in and around San Antonio that would eventually be brought home. Home, and placed outside on Halloween night, to signal to little ghosts, monsters, and princesses everywhere that it is safe to Trick-Or-Treat.
For these children, the view of a teal pumpkin from afar, and, the offering of a non-food treat … has never been sweeter.
Erin Kirwan is a former news anchor and reporter who owns Savvy Media Marketing and Public Relations. Erin works with Advanced Allergy to help share important news, tips, and patient stories.