Last night at Pump It Up (in Reno, NV) was simply beautiful! I am lucky enough to co-lead our local Asthma and Food Allergy Parent Education Group (AAPE to those who know and love us) and even luckier to play hostess to many darling little ghosts, goblins and princesses. I love Halloween just as much as Christmas partially thanks to our Annual AAPE Halloween Jump Bash, which is food free. For two glorious hours our kids with asthma and food allergies are regular old run of the mill kids running, jumping and creating a fuss with their costumes holding no concerns about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Almond Joy bars being served. The night is magical for the kids and even more special for the parents who simply get to enjoy the moment!
Food Allergy parents don’t need to keep their eagle eyes scanning the room for candy that can be insanely dangerous, kids don’t have to worry about carrying Epi Pens®…they hand them off along with their shoes as they make their way into the Pump It Up , inflatable party zone. Pump It Up goes above and beyond the call of duty to make our night special. They offer us a ridiculously low price that Dr. Maria Reyes of Northern Nevada Allergy happy covers for us (thank you again and again Nick and Kelly Spallone). Their staff dresses up in costume and helps lead the parade. No food is allowed into the jump areas or in the facility during our party and they scrub down before our arrival. Our goal is to provide an alternative to trick or treating while creating an opportunity for Halloween costumes to be worn and be oohed and awwwed by the grown-ups! Plus each child receives a trick or treat bag loaded to the max with non-food goodies (thank you to Valarie Friland for her kind donation of several prizes for the bags).
trick or treat bags waiting to be filled
The bottom line is that in days past, many of our families ended up in the Emergency Room on Halloween. In response, our Halloween bash was born! I am in awe year after year as I watch these kids grow from little princesses and ninjas into lovely teenagers who now attend the party as volunteers! The youth volunteers assemble the trick or treat bags during the beginning of the party based on our head count. We then take our left over food allergy safe trick or treat bags over to our local hospital for the kids in the pediatric ward, so they can trick or treat too (in their ward) since they also can’t always eat candy and sweets.
Our youth volunteers pausing for the photo op! We enjoyed Dr. Maria Reyes of Northern Nevada Allergy (which is a nut free restaurant) post event-yum!
One little girl asked me if were we going to do Thanksgiving together and that just struck me! Of course, it felt like an old family gathering, with grandmothers and cousins coming from afar to celebrate. This little girl has been celebrating with us since she was 2 years old! She is 9 years old now and our little food allergy family has truly become her family. We even have our own groups grandmothers who help with our registration table! They are “our” grandmothers too!
In addition to bouncing, the kids enjoy a parade, then we host a raffle – shout out to Dr. Maria Reyes of Northern Nevada Allergy who donated three fabulous raffle prize–the raffle prizes were a big hit! The camaraderie is priceless as parents share stories of successes, struggles, trade names of allergists and pick up a few extra tips. We even enjoy one family who drives up every year from Dayton which is probably a good 1.5 hours away! I just look forward to this event year as I watch our “babies” grow up. Although, Judie–if you are reading this–you and Molly were sorely missed! Judie and Molly have been with our AAPE group since Molly was teeny tiny, now Molly is a middle school aged girl taller than me! They recently moved to Maryland so we’ve been crying in our soy milk ever since (Judie’s allergic to dairy)!
I hope you enjoy your own beautiful kind of Halloween next week! I just love fall to no end!