Celiac Awareness Night at the Mets 2011
It was a sunny and beautiful day when Whitney, Kristin and I arrived at Citi Field for Celiac Disease Awareness Night at the New York Mets on May 27. We battled the BQE (that’s the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, for those fortunate enough to avoid driving it) and hauled a massive shopping bag full of handouts across the parking lot and then back the other way. But, we were there and ready for action!
As a first timer (I joined NFCA just after Celiac Awareness Night at the Phillies 2010), I didn’t know quite what to expect. Would our tables be easy to find? Does anyone actually stroll over? Despite this, I agreed to man the table just inside the ballpark entrance while everyone else greeted the crowd at our main outpost in Left Field Landing. Now, this did mean that I missed the first few innings of the game, but I also got a chance to talk with people who weren’t sitting in the Left Field Landing (aka, a lot of non-gluten-free folks).
I was amazed by the range of awareness among the people I spoke with. There were celiac supporters who gobbled up our literature; people who said their mom or cousin is gluten-free; and people who asked me to repeat myself three times before they finally grasped the word ‘celiac.’ Fortunately, almost all took an interest in what I had to say. Fans who had relatives with celiac cringed and nodded when I told them to get tested. Another fan had no clue what gluten was but listened attentively and gave me an earnest “thank you” after I gave him a crash course in celiac disease. Of course, there were others who shrugged it off saying “I’ve never had those types of problem,” but that’s all part of the process.
Upstairs, the silent auction and raffle gathered plenty of interest among gluten-free fans. NFCA’s Nancy, Kristin and Whitney sold tickets and offered information along with our fabulous co-organizer and partner Randi Albertelli of R.O.C.K. Long Island and R.O.C.K. Long Island volunteers. Whitney reported that Kevin Burkhardt, field reporter for SNY and fellow celiac, was a fantastic host, plugging celiac information in many of his reports and checking in frequently to make sure volunteers and attendees were enjoying themselves. Mr. Met and Mets third baseman Nick Evans also stopped by to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
Of course, Celiac Disease Awareness Night isn’t complete without plenty of food, and the gluten-free concession stand was packed with hungry supporters. Gluten-free hamburgers, hot dogs, beer, and more. “Did you see the Kozy Shack cart?!” one fan shouted in passing. Yes, even pudding was available. Kudos to Rick Grey and his very capable ARAMARK team for making gluten-free extra accessible to the crowd.
Before the game, we had a chance to honor several advocates from the celiac and gluten-free communities with the Mets Spirit Award. Kevin Burkhardt of SNY, Elisabeth Hasselbeck of “The View”, Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun, Gabrielle Simon of NYNJ R.O.C.K., and the Albertelli family joined Whitney Ehret from NFCA on the field for the special award presentation. The Mets announcer gave the fans an overview of celiac disease as he introduced the honorees. Huge thanks to Mets Group Sales for making this all possible.
So how was the game? In the end, the Phillies beat the Mets 6-4, and while we were thrilled to root on both teams along with their fans, we couldn’t help feeling some pride as we packed up the car and headed back to Philadelphia.
Next up, we’re ready to watch the Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves during Celiac Awareness Night at the Phillies on July 8, 2011. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, order them today: philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/ticketing/group/splash.jsp
For more recaps of Celiac Disease Awareness Night at the Mets:
Entry filed under: Cheryl. Tags: Celiac Awareness Month, celiac disease, celiac sports night, cheryl, education, events, gluten-free, gluten-free stadiums, NFCA in the wild, phillies, spreading awareness.