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Senior raises food allergy awareness

The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes a fun Halloween experience for kids with food allergies.

The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes a fun Halloween experience for kids with food allergies.

Autumn Rendall, Writer

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Often when someone with food allergies says they could die from eating something, the world perceives them as “over dramatic.” In reality, food allergies are a serious matter. 1 in 13 children have a food allergy, roughly two in every classroom.

Food allergies happen when a body’s immune system reacts to a protein because it has mistaken that protein as a threat thus, causing a reaction. A severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis affects several areas of the body, can make it hard to breathe, and complicates the process of circulating blood. For senior Caitlyn Sulak’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, she is raising awareness for food allergies with her project, “It’s Not Theatrics if it’s Anaphylaxis.” 

“This project is to raise awareness and let people know little things can be life or death,” Sulak said. “For example,  I couldn’t kiss a guy since he might have traces of peanut. There are many things people take for granted.”

Sulak will be hosting a “trunk-or-treat” for food awareness this Saturday, Oct.29 at the Orangefield Rose Thayer parking lot from 10 a.m. until noon. 

“There will be cars parked everywhere handing out non-food trinkets,” Sulak said. “We’ll hand out footballs, slinkies, and lots more.”

This project also brings attention to the widely-growing “Teal Pumpkin Project.” 

“People can set out a teal pumpkin and that signifies they’ll be handing out non-food items,” Sulak said. “This helps children with allergies and also diabetes in some cases.”

Since this is such an important project, a large amount of work has gone into it.

“We’re still recruiting people to work the event,” Sulak said. “We’re also printing out flyers, talking to elementary schools, gathering donations, and encouraging people to come to the event.”

The topic of food allergies is an issue Sulak is quite passionate about for a number of reasons.

“I am severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts,” Sulak said. “I have several allergies in my family as well. There are a lot of people in America who suffer.  Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.”

Sulak said not only does she hope for a great turnout at the event, but for a stronger message to be conveyed. 

“We’re not exaggerating what we say on how serious this all is,” Sulak said. “There’s a lot of bullying that happens to kids with food allergies, and we want to try and prevent that from happening.”

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Senior raises food allergy awareness