Mom Celebrates Her Son’s Life by Raising Asthma Awareness

 

Helping people was something Austin Dodds loved to do.

“Austin was a very quiet child but had a wonderful sense of humor and a huge heart,” says his mom, Meredith Dodds.

He also loved to cook and learn new recipes with his father. He was a fan of comic books and his favorite football team was the Carolina Panthers.

Austin was diagnosed with asthma when he was 3. That never stopped him from playing sports, including track, baseball and football. To manage his asthma, Austin used a quick-relief inhaler and a nebulizer when needed. He was very active.

Meredith Dodds with her son Austin

Meredith Dodds with her son Austin. Photo credit: Meredith Dodds


On Oct. 1, 2016, Austin had a massive asthma attack. He lost consciousness and a few days later he passed away.

“The night Austin passed away, it was completely unexpected and still unbelievable,” remembers Meredith. “Anytime he had a flare up, we gave him a breathing treatment or had him use his inhaler. Within minutes, he found relief. This night in particular nothing worked … for some strange reason he couldn’t find relief.”

Today, Meredith is making an impact in her son’s memory and to honor his giving nature. She is raising awareness for asthma and to support the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA). “Austin had a heart to help and a heart to serve,” Meredith says.

“When Austin passed away there was an outpouring of support. So many people asked how to help,” Meredith recalls. “We asked that they donate to AAFA to support asthma awareness so no other parent would have to feel the pain we do.”

Austin with his dad, Guiseppe, and brother, Jaxson

Austin with his dad, Guiseppe, and brother, Jaxson. Photo credit: Meredith Dodds

Meredith wanted to do more. She started the MyHope4Austin Organization. And one year after Austin passed, she held her first Walk for Asthma Awareness on Oct. 7, 2017, in Akron, Ohio. The Dodds’ co-workers in Montgomery, Alabama, also held a small walk that same week.

More than 80 participants celebrated Austin’s life with a balloon release and by walking a 5K. Through online and personal donations, the walk raised more than $2,500 for AAFA.

The walk began with a balloon send off in remembrance of Austin

The walk began with a balloon send off in remembrance of Austin. Photo credit: Dustin Claridy


Educating people about asthma is important.
“I understood asthma was a very dangerous condition, but I never knew anyone died from asthma,” she said. Now she is urging people to “continue learning and stay informed and aware.”

About 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma. In Meredith’s experience, “Everyone knows at least one person with asthma.” The challenge is that people “may not know what to do if they’re faced with a flareup or an emergency situation.” Meredith is helping make sure people with and without asthma get the education they need.

Common symptoms of asthma are coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. It is important for people with asthma to learn their triggers. As soon as symptoms arise, quick-acting medicine needs to be given.

This is only the beginning for the MyHope4Austin Organization. Meredith is already planning the 2018 Walk for Asthma Awareness. She wants to do even more this year. And she plans to continue educating and spreading awareness about asthma. To learn more, follow MyHope4Austin on Facebook.

Through fundraising for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, you can improve the lives of people with asthma and allergies. Your gift allows us to continue to offer life-saving information, support, advocacy and research to the millions managing these conditions every day.


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Dear Deborah,

You have my deepest sympathy on your loss. Only another parent, like Meredith, can truly understand the loss of a child. Nothing we - or anyone - can say will make it easier. Nothing is going to replace your son, or make his passing less frustrating.

But you may find that channeling your pain can help - not only for you, your family and friends, but all the other spouses, children, friends and colleagues who may be living with asthma, know someone intimately at risk, or may suffer the same kind of loss at some point.

The reality is asthma kills. And the rate at which it kills is increasing - we aren’t completely certain why, how or what needs to be done about it. But it’s something we need to fix. Now.

When I was a child in the 1950s-60s, there was little accurate understanding of asthma, its triggers, almost no effective treatments, and little attention by the wider public of its costs, both physically/personally and economically. Along with the great strides we’ve made with preventive medications and what we’ve learned about triggers has come greater societal awareness, but still far to little understanding of just how dangerous a disease it is.

Some of us are channeling our efforts into learning more, teaching more, challenging preconceptions, and campaigning for better, more effective and less damaging ways to treat acute asthma attacks. Currently the primary treatment for adults is with massive doses of oral/IV corticosteroids, which are never eliminated from the body and thus steadily build up and cause huge problems later for some patients, like me.

Perhaps, as your first waves of grief ease a bit, you can use your anger towards adult education - volunteer to talk to organizations and groups throughout your community about just how dangerous asthma can be, and what needs to be done and how quickly. Or like Meredith and her family, help raise funds in your community for research. Maybe you can work with your grandchildren’s schools to teach students, teachers and staff about what asthma is, how to recognize symptoms and what to do.

In the meantime, I hope you reach out to your own physician or your son’s to learn more about what happened, and how asthma can turn deadly so quickly. I also hope you consider a grief counselor - I’ve benefited greatly from such care and your doctor or a local psychology organization can help you find someone with the specialization.

In the meantime, we’re here. And AAFA has other resources and partner organizations you might find helpful. Please know you and your family will stay in my thoughts and prayers. Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

Debbie


Deborah, I am incredibly sorry to hear of your family's recent loss of your son. What a horrible thing to endure and go through! My heart grieves for you and your family. No mother ever ought to have to go through what you've been through.

I can definitely understand your grief and your anger and your shock and bewilderment right now. 

I will be thinking of you and your family. We are here for you -- please feel free to start a new topic on our asthma support community so that we can offer our support as you go through the very difficult days ahead. If you would like, I can start one for you using your comment below. Just let me know. 

I lost my 40 year old son last week, a husband, father to three young sons, brother! And very loved son.  Last year at this time he was hospitalized and intubated to help him breath. When he started suffering very bad symptoms last weekend he was reluctant to go to the hospital for fear they would intubate him. By the time he realized how serious it was he collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest.  I am so broken and angry that he waited so long to try to get help.  It is very hard to function.  How do you go on from the loss.of a child?

Dear Meredith,

Thank you for so very much for sharing your son's story. My heart goes out to you and your family for the loss of your beautiful son and for turning his tragic loss into something positive that will help others living with asthma.  Those of us with children who have asthma thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Warmly,

Lynda

Meredith, you are truly an amazing mother.  The MyHope4Austin Organization will not only keep the legacy of your son alive but it will also help others who have asthma. Having a loved one transition to heaven isn’t easy and it takes a champion and a loving, caring, kind, unselfish spirit like yours to turn emotions into something positive, educational and thoughtful.

Thank you for sharing your story.  You and your family are always in my prayers.

Meredith, The MyHope4Austin organization is a wonderful way to honor your son’s kind and generous heart. Thank you for sharing your family’s story with us and for your work to increase asthma awareness and education in the community.

Gratefully,

Brenda

Thank you for sharing Austin's story. Meredith, you are an inspiration. What an amazing way to create a legacy for your son. I am confident that with your strength, spirit and desire to help others, the MyHope4Austin Organization will have a far-reaching impact as it continues to grow. Many hugs and blessings to you and your family, Meredith!

What an incredible way to honor your beautiful son's life. Meredith, I am so inspired by your courage and strength to use this tragedy to bring awareness to others. You are one amazing mom. Thank you for sharing Austin's story, and yours. Blessings to your family as you work to protect the lives of other children with asthma in his honor.

I'm so sorry about your son leaving us.  I to don't get relief from inhalers.  I do need to comment on all those balloon releases, its really bad for our bird friends and causes a lot of pollution and danger to our wildlife.

I pray for the family and for all those suffering with allergies and asthma. It is difficult to live with every day. It is difficult to watch and care for someone living with it. I wish I could snap my fingers and cure us all. But, education and awareness does save lives and help. Planting (female, allergy-friendly trees) helps. And research helps. I am so sorry to the family of Austin and the community, you are in our prayers.

 To all the Asthma sufferers, remember, if you intend to plant a tree in honour of the Asthma sufferer like Austin, plant a 'female' tree. Why? Because we are planting, male clonal, pollen producing, Asthma causing, native or non-native trees.

Your "2018 Walk for Asthma Awareness", is again a great undertaking and to al participants, 'my hat goes of''. Support your AAFA, Asthma awareness.         "Together we are stronger".  

What a lovely and wonderful way to celebrate Austin's life! My heart breaks for this family, but I am so amazed at how they have given Austin's life meaning. From one mother to another, thank you for turning your grief into action!

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