Back to normal today and feeling oodles of gratitude for Becky Basalone of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee for her brilliant idea that inspired a nation to paint to pumpkins teal to make a statement! The love does not stop there though, I’m grateful for the energy and roll out by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). The Teal Pumpkin Project (TPP) sparked a very important conversation, not only about food allergies, but about how we listen regarding this life threatening disease. Becky took her Teal Pumpkin concept to FARE to launch an even larger awareness effort. A non-profit the size of FARE has the benefit of a marketing and public professionals on staff, including relationships with the media. I appreciated the posters and free downloads–especially as they were updated with additional options, such as the recent poster stating non-food treats AND candy were being handed out.
They Are Not Listening. I hung posters, purchased plastic fingers, painted pumpkins, shared flyers and watched lots of great news stories on TV and online. The last few weeks have been amazing and fun. The most important part of the TPP for me, was watching the tireless conversations that took place. It was a fascinating moment in time watching strangers panic that the tradition of Halloween was in danger. I learned that people don’t listen and lead with their fears. Some of the crazy comments left on facebook news sites were so bad they became entertainment as they delivered a bigger lesson: food allergy education is desperately needed. We said, “Paint a pumpkin Teal and hand out non-food treats for inclusion”. American heard: “No CANDY ALLOWED Halloween is threatened”. I’m not sure how the TTP message got lost in translation, but it is safe to say that we need to roll up our sleeves and get back to work on education.
Beautiful Stories. I had so much fun on Facebook this weekend reading heart warming stories of neighbors putting up TPP signage, giving out non-candy treats and honest efforts to include children with food allergies or other children who prefer non-food treats. There were darling photos of children with big smiles–I sensed less fear and more joy this year in the posts. I had to smile along too.
Awareness Grows. Even more heart warming was witnessing stories about food allergies that were not surrounding a tragic death or legislation. You know how much I love a good story about policy change, but a story about communities nationwide working towards inclusion was amazing!
Giving Back! I’m sooooo happy today that I’m diving in early for my year-end donation to FARE to help support the costs of the TPP promotion, graphic art, website updates, interviews, etc. This was a very worth while campaign and I understand the cost of campaigns (think Lung Force and the American Lung Association)! Becky, I did not see a way to donate to FACET on your website, so please accept my eternal gratitude that you did not keep this gem of an idea to yourself and reached out to a larger organization with resources.