In 2012, Becky Basalone, Founder and Executive Director of FACET (Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee), Inc., painted a pumpkin the recognized color for food allergy awareness and handed out non-food items at a Halloween event in her community.
Little did she know that her teal pumpkin would grow into a larger movement that now sees teal pumpkins on the porches of homes across the country to designate safe stops for trick-or-treaters with food allergies. Commercially produced teal pumpkin products can even be found for sale at retail chains such as Target, CVS and Michaels.
When Basalone corresponded with Vita on this story, she didn’t take all the credit for the success of the campaign. “Many people have worked tirelessly for years to ensure that the Teal Pumpkin Project remains relevant and mission-driven,” Basalone said. “It is a wonderful feeling to see families, businesses and communities embrace the Teal Pumpkin Project. I envisioned a world that would empower children with food allergies and help them to self-advocate without fear of stigma or ridicule.”
Basalone shared some advice for other parents, whether their children are living with food allergies, rare diseases or other challenges. “Parenting is hard. My advice to parents of children with unique challenges is to never give up hope, keep fighting for your child to live his or her best life, and understand that you are not alone in this journey,” she said. “Reach out and connect with others. You are the greatest influence in how your child approaches his or her challenges, it is important to have a healthy mindset so that you may teach your child how to thrive.”