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.
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.”
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.
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.