When 17-year-old Reilly Price says that she has “always been a busy person,” she’s not kidding! Reilly takes both high school and community college classes. She is working on a senior research project. She serves as captain of her cross-country team, and dances for a pre-professional ballet company. She participates in student government and other campus clubs.
On top of all this, Reilly also found time to raise money to help support Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA).
Reilly has had asthma since she was 13. Reilly is an avid athlete. When she was first diagnosed with asthma, Reilly was on both soccer and cross-country running teams.
“After a mid-week soccer game, my chest felt really tight,” Reilly recalls. “That Saturday I was at church with my family. I was having such a hard time breathing that I could not go up the stairs! My parents took me to urgent care. That’s when I found out I have asthma.”
The diagnosis was not a big surprise because Reilly’s father and grandfather both have asthma, too. Even so, it was not easy.
Reilly won’t let asthma stop her. Reilly’s asthma symptoms are triggered by exercise. To keep her asthma under control her doctor prescribed a daily long-term inhaler plus a quick-relief inhaler to use before and after she exercises.
But asthma management also meant that Reilly had to rethink her approach to sports.
“In addition to taking my meds,” she says, “I had to learn when I needed to take a break. Now I can’t always go full throttle. Sometimes I have to be the kid who sits on the sidelines, which can be frustrating. I have good days and bad days. But I don’t let asthma stop me. That was the biggest thing. I was so determined to work through it that it didn’t stop me.”
AAFA has been a big help for Reilly. Reilly discovered AAFA shortly after she was first diagnosed with asthma. Her parents wanted to ensure her asthma was under control, so they were focused on daily management. Reilly was looking for answers to other questions. How could she keep doing all of the things she loved, but with asthma? AAFA was a big help in this area.
The resources available on AAFA’s website were just what Reilly needed. She read the information, used the tools and was inspired by the stories. And AAFA has continued to be a source of information and support for Reilly since then.
Reilly was excited to give back to AAFA. Last year, Reilly decided to enter the Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen contest in Virginia. The biggest part of this scholarship competition is a community service project. Reilly immediately knew that for her community service project she wanted to help AAFA help others like her.
Because Reilly has been running competitively since seventh grade, creating a 5K walk/run to benefit AAFA seemed natural. Her goals were to raise money and bring more attention to asthma, while providing a nice community event on a Saturday morning. In addition to the race, Reilly also organized a bake sale and an ongoing GoFundMe page.
Asthma has had some positive impacts. While she’d rather not have asthma, Reilly does not believe that asthma has been all negative.
“At first it was really hard,” Reilly remembers. “When you’re 13, you want to fit in with everyone else. I went to a very small school. I was the only one with asthma, and that was hard.”
But now, Reilly also sees the positives. “I think that mentally asthma has made me a better runner,” she notes. “I feel like I have to work twice as hard as everybody else just to get the same results. This has built a lot of character in me. It’s made me much more determined as an athlete and as a dancer.”
Asthma has also made Reilly want to inspire others. She sees how much she has been able to accomplish in spite of her asthma. And she wants to help others overcome the challenges, too.
This is why sending in the donation to AAFA was such a rewarding moment for Reilly. After four years, asthma has become a part of who she is. She never wanted to let asthma stop her – and she hasn’t!