Teal pumpkins help Tampa Bay kids with allergies

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — While most people put up only a few decorations for Halloween, Tara Geise is different. The Geise home has a busy lawn and decorations inside, too. Even the fish tank has a sticky skeleton. Her 4-year-old son’s severe food allergies would seem to put a wrench in a holiday all about candy, but thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, Cody can still go trick-or-treating.

“Cody’s allergic to peanuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, chicken,” Geise said. “I have food allergies too.”

Geise describes everyday life as doing a lot of their own baking and teaching Cody to say “no” whenever a friend offers him food. They even board planes early and wipe down everything in sight. But Geise doesn’t complain, instead, she learns as much as possible about her son’s allergies.

That’s why she’s so passionate about the Teal Pumpkin Project. The goal is to encourage kids with food allergies to still enjoy trick-or-treating. Participants put a teal pumpkin on the porch and that means they’re dishing up non-food items for excited kids. In its second year, more than 100,000 people are registered on the FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) website.

“We are so grateful anytime he can be included,” Geise said. “It means so much to see him able to enjoy it like all other kids. He is just like all other kids aside from his food allergies.”

Cody’s mom doesn’t know of any other homes in their neighborhood sporting teal pumpkins. She plans to bring an extra bag of “allergy safe candy” and just trade Cody throughout Halloween night.

One in 13 kids has food allergies. According to the FARE website, about 40 homes around the Bay Area are planning to give non-food treats Saturday, and those are just the households that registered. For a map of these homes, click here.

FARE is hosting a Walk for Food Allergy Saturday Nov 7 in Tampa.

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