St. Louis College of Pharmacy and JDRF Partner for Boo Fest 2019

Published on 25 October 2019

A sea of costumed kids converged on the St. Louis College of Pharmacy Quad on Oct. 20, as the College and JDRF, the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, partnered to host the 13th annual Boo Fest event.

More than 200 kids and families living with T1D took part in the festivities, enjoying Halloween-themed games, crafts and music, face and pumpkin painting, a bounce house and T1D-friendly snacks and refreshments. Those in attendance included JDRF kids and families, and the friends and families of College faculty, staff and alumni.

According to JDRF, nearly 200,000 individuals nationwide under age 20 are currently living with T1D, many of which are young children. For kids with T1D, Halloween can be a challenging time, as they struggle to keep their blood sugar levels in check amid a seemingly endless supply of sweet treats.

Once known as juvenile diabetes, T1D is an autoimmune disease which causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy. While the cause of T1D is unknown, and the disease has no cure, it is treated through the management of blood sugar levels with insulin, which helps to prevent disease-related health complications.

“While individuals can be diagnosed with T1D at any age, many are diagnosed in elementary school or as preteens,” said Nicole Gattas, associate professor of pharmacy practice and director of experiential education at the College. “Once a diagnosis happens, the disease requires 24/7 management of blood sugar levels with insulin and a special diet.”

Since candy is composed of refined, simple sugars that are quickly absorbed by the body, parents of kids with TID must closely monitor Halloween candy intake to control blood sugar levels.

“With candy being such a focus of our Halloween celebrations, the holiday can be hard for kids with TID because indulging on sweets treats isn’t an option for them,” said Gattas. “Those with T1D have to account for all of the carbs that are coming in from the treats they consume, and then dose a specific amount of insulin to counteract those carbs to prevent a dangerous rise in blood glucose levels.”

Gattas notes that candy-free events, like Boo Fest, can serve as great ways for kids to enjoy all the fun of Halloween without all the sugar.

“Year after year, it’s amazing to see how much joy Boo Fest continues to bring to area kids with TID and their families,” Gattas said. “Our campus community rallies behind this event because we know how important it is to those who attend, and we were excited to once again partner with JDRF to make this fun and memorable day possible. It’s a great experience for both the kids and families who come out, and our students who get the chance to interact with them in a fun and engaging way.”

“JDRF is grateful for St. Louis College of Pharmacy’s partnership and commitment to improving the lives of people living with T1D and their families,” said Susan Bushnell, interim executive director and regional director of the JDRF Greater Missouri and Southern Illinois Chapter. “This annual event is a wonderful opportunity for families in our community living with T1D to come together for Halloween fun.”

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