Rashad Jennings battled life-threatening asthma as a child and recovered to achieve his dream of playing professional football. Deep inside, he still thinks of himself as a child with asthma. So the New York Giants running back is pairing with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to motivate children who, like him, do their best to stay healthy in the face of this chronic illness.
Rashad Jennings wasn’t always the successful athlete that he is today. Growing up, Rashad was a short, overweight kid with asthma who could only dream of playing professional football.
"When I get a chance to talk to kids who have asthma, when I get to hear how they're dealing with it, I'm really there with them because I understand what it feelsl like not to be able to breathe."
Emmanuel and his family know staying on top of asthma and preventing flare-ups keeps you in the game – in Emmanuel’s case, 1st base, his favorite position. Asthma makes baseball a challenge. “I can’t run for a long time like the other kids,” he says.
As Matthew reaches his teen years, his asthma seems to be getting worse. In addition, a recent asthma attack led to anxiety. Matthew channels the negative energy stirred up by the anxiety into positive thoughts, which is motivating him towards a hockey trophy.
Learn about Matthew's journey with asthma
Grace plays lacrosse, soccer, tennis and golf, and even ran a 5K race when she was eight. She remembers when she first understood what it means to have asthma.
“I kept having to use the puffer [inhaler],” she says, “and then it started to get worse whenever I played soccer.”
Now Grace finds that using her inhaler before the game makes a big difference for her.
Seth’s first asthma attack happened in school, during a run. “My chest was getting tight and it was hard for me to breathe,” says the now 11-year-old, who also has life-threatening allergies to multiple foods. Fortunately, the school nurse was ready and had quick-relief medicine on hand.
Out on the Lacrosse field, 13-year-old Sarah plays on the attack wing. She dodges, screens, shoots and scores goals. Most of the time she’s able to manage her asthma so it doesn’t hold her back. “But when asthma makes it hard for me to breathe,” she explains, “I feel like – whoa! – I need to sit down, use my inhaler and take it slow.”
Dr. Neeta Ogden, Rashad Jennings, and a team of kids with asthma share the steps you can take to manage your asthma before, during and after exercise: