8th grader Ben Grimm has always loved playing sports. What he didn't love as a kid was the way playing sports made his body feel.
"It was just breathe..breathe and it was just that all the time," he said.
Ben says he's struggled with asthma since birth and was officially diagnosed with the lung disease at age 2. Since then, he's tried a variety of treatments to control his symptoms.
"When I was like 7, I had to do breathing treatments with the nebulizer and sometimes, it was so bad that I had to put a vest on."
Now 14 years old, Ben says his asthma is much milder than it used to be.
Ben's sister and father are also asthmatic, but his mother Toni says her kids and husband have become pros as managing the disease, so it doesn't interfere with day to day life.
"He takes an inhaler every day and my daughter does too now. Every day and he takes assorted pills. There's pills that you can take for asthma as well and allergies," said Toni Grimm.
The Grimm family has been active with the American Lung Association for several years, and this year, Ben is serving as youth ambassador for Arizona.
"It's a role that shows that not just adults are a part of this and that the youth is a big part of asthma as well," he said.
As an ambassador, Ben has made several presentations and has also appeared in a public service announcement.
At Sky Mountain Middle School, he's educating fellow classmates about his condition and raising money through a Penny Wars competition.
"Your home room will put pennies for you but other home rooms will put in.. say a quarter and that will subtract 25 pennies," explained Ben.
"There's a nickel..see..that takes away his 5 right," he laughed.
The home room with the most pennies wins a pizza party and all the proceeds will go toward the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Walk on April 27.
"Not only do we walk with lots of family, teams and corporate teams, but we enjoy a pancake breakfast and live bands and a kids corner so it's a great, family fun morning," said ALA's Executive Director Stacey Mortenson.
This year, Ben will be joined at the race with fellow walkers on Team Ben's Breathers.
Ben hopes his continued work as an ambassador will help show that asthma doesn't mean the end to a full and active life.
"You can still do what you want to do, even if you have asthma.. you can still do whatever sport you want to do," he said.
Fight for Air Walk
April 27, 8am
Scottsdale Civic Center
3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
KDFW FOX 4
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