Aida Aleshire is a first-grader at Hugh K. Cbadell Elementary School in Fishersville, Virginia. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four days after her fifth birthday. Type 1 diabetes prevents Aida from being able to get the same treats her friends do, due to her dietary restrictions. Members of the Fishersville community held a trunk or treat on Sunday so Aida could do just that.
At a trunk or treat, people gather in a parking lot and decorate their trunks so that kids can come by each trunk and trick or treat. The event was inspired by the Teal Pumpkin Project, an organization whose mission is to make sure any kid can enjoy Halloween, no matter their dietary restrictions. The trunk or treat took place at Wilson Elementary School, but had to be moved into the gym due to rain.
Aida’s family was overwhelmed by the community’s support for Aida at the event, which was held about a year and a half since her diagnosis.
“It’s just amazing,” Missy Aleshire, Aida’s mom, said. “Not only are they supporting us as a family and our efforts to raise money for a cure, but they’re bringing awareness to it.”
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the pancreas. Aida’s pancreas was completely destroyed and she no longer produces insulin. She has to take four shots of insulin every day. She has at least nine finger pricks a day, and she wears a continuous glucose monitor. If she wants to eat candy, she has to worry about getting a shot.
“We have some friends who go to the middle school and high school and they know Aida and they knew of her diagnosis,” Missy said. “So they decided to do this project, and so Aida’s kind of … the reason behind it.”
The TPP’s goal is to raise awareness for food allergies and other dietary needs. On Halloween, houses with a teal pumpkin serve as a beacon for kids with dietary restrictions. They can go there and get non-food items like bouncy balls, stickers and yo-yos. The trunk or treat was based on the same idea.
Students involved with the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America put on the event. The FCCLA is a co-curricular organization that aims to help students with participation in the community.
Tiffany Tyree is a teacher at Wilson Elementary and her daughter is a member of the middle school FCCLA team. She says thinks the program does a great job at getting her daughter, and other kids, involved.
“It just kind of comes naturally that when she’s doing something I’m helping with it,” Tyree said. “And I want to encourage that as much as possible.”
Besides raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, another goal of the FCCLA and the parents was to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes and to educate people on how it differs from Type 2.
“Type 1 is life-changing, simply put,” Missy said. “Not just for Aida, for our entire family. Type 1 is very different from Type 2, and that’s one thing that we want to do is we want to bring awareness to Type 1.”
Even though Aida struggles with diabetes every day, she says events like this are important for not only her, but others in her situation.
“[It’s important] because I get to help other people that were diagnosed with diabetes.” Aida said.
Because of Aida’s diagnosis, the community came together, and other students in the area made it possible for Aida and other kids with Type 1 to enjoy Halloween.
“We hear so many bad stories of young people these days and the trouble they get into,” Missy said. “But then you’ve got this group of kids that are advocating for Type 1, they’re teaching about it, they’re raising money for a cure, all because of this little girl that they know. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Contact Thomas Robertson at [email protected] For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.