How often do kids with asthma hear inspirational messages from a professional football player?
Over 20 children ages 6-14 recently did, as AAFA hosted its first #TackleAsthma event for National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. They learned how to exercise safely with asthma, thanks to the generosity of one player who knows their struggles.
Rashad Jennings, running back for the NY Giants, met the kids at a New Jersey gym near the stadium.
Sometimes children with chronic conditions like asthma can feel isolated. Breathing problems may hold them back from doing the things that their friends do or make it hard to keep up with them.
Rashad understands that as well. Growing up, he was often held back by his asthma. At 10 years old, Rashad has his first asthma attack while playing on the monkey bars with his friends. He spent a week fighting for his life in the hospital.
Throughout the day, the event empowered families to take charge of asthma.
The mini-camp gave the kids the chance to run football drills with Rashad. It also allowed them to hear an inspiring story about his incredible journey with asthma.
“It was something I was embarrassed of because I was always tired, I couldn’t do what all my friends were doing, but I never let it hold me back at all,” Rashad tells the kids.
After the attack, he achieved his dream of playing pro football through hard work and determination. He learned how to use a quick-relief inhaler and exercise. He also improved his grades.
Before breaking into small groups for football drills, Rashad and allergist Dr. Neeta Ogden showed the kids a large banner depicting three breathing zones (good, getting worse and difficult). They went over warning signs of asthma as well as ways to prevent symptoms.
You have access to this information as well – just download and share our Tackle Asthma Playbook.
Asthma is a chronic disease that has no cure. There are over 6 million children in the U.S. with asthma.
Rashad shared his struggles with asthma to show kids living with this chronic disease that they are not alone in their journey.
“Dealing with asthma, we’re all dealing with this together,” he said.
“I still see myself as that asthmatic kid who was told he would never be able to play sports,” Rashad tells AAFA. “Through #TackleAsthma, I’ve had a chance to connect with kids who have asthma to show them that I’m just like them. I want kids to understand that you can live with asthma, you can overcome asthma and you can tackle asthma like I did.”
The kids went home with AAFA’s You Can Control Asthma books, autographs, t-shirts, device chargers and more.
AAFA thanks Rashad Jennings and the Rashad Jennings Foundation for their support of #TackleAsthma, as well as Charged Concepts.