Laura Ledford

When Christopher was born, he was the cutest sweetest little thing ever.  He came into this world a fighter as he was born with his identical twin brother, Cameron at 36 weeks.  Cameron sadly passed away at birth due to TTTS, a blood transfusion disorder.  Christopher was sent straight to Kosair Children's Hospital due to complications breathing and low blood platelet counts.  He fought though at the very first few minutes that life breathed its way into his 5 lb little being.

Growing up, Christopher was the silliest yet quietest kiddo you'd ever meet.  He observed everything and took it all in without saying much about what was going on.  He loved playing with his older sister Halee and brother Nicholas.  The three would always be outside riding bikes and finding new mysteries to get themselves into.  Inside they would have dance-offs and wrestling matches.  They went everywhere and did everything together.

Chris was literally 110% boy.  He was the boy that you really would not want to shake hands with, but couldn't help hugging, kissing and cuddling.  He was excited about joining the flag football team in Meade County and really excited that he might be joining the regular football team in the spring.  He always had a love for the Army- the colors, the job, and of course the guns and tanks.  He never talked about going to college, only about being a soldier when he grew up.

From birth, we were aware of his weakened lungs, and as a baby, we began using the nebulizer on him with the fish mask.  He hated it at first, but soon got used to it and understood growing up that it helped him breath a little easier.

When Chris was 5 years old, he suffered a major asthma attack that caused him to have a seizure and stop breathing. It's unimaginable the words to describe the feeling of doing everything possible to breathe life back into your own child, but that night, it worked.  EMS quickly took Christopher to Kentucky Children's Hospital (we lived near Lexington at the time) and placed him under a medicine induced coma, paralysis and intubated for 6 and 7 days.  After 11 days in the hospital, we were able to bring Christopher home.  I would ask him at times if he remembered anything from his stay and he would reply with "The smiley-face fries". I'm so glad that's all he remembered.

After that attack, Chris saw specialists on a regular basis including a pulmonologist, asthma and allergy doctor, pediatrician, and dermatologist.  Chris had the three As: Asthma, Allergies, Atopical Dermatitis.  He was put on a regiment of medication that over time seemed to alter his mood and behavior.  He would have severe outlashes toward family and other children or adults.  It was episodic so we were never really aware of when these would occur.  The behavior began to frighten me for my other children and I spoke with his asthma/allergy doctor in the spring/early summer of 2012 and we agreed that we would see how removing him from the medication would work for his behavior.  It was working great!  He was calmed down and able to focus and not get so upset so quickly.  His asthma was doing well overall without the use of the medicine too. 

During the summer, I transferred to a different facility with work and was able to move closer to my family. I bought a house for the kids and I, one which Christopher loved!  He loved the view, the trees, the fireplace (even though it is just gas, it looks cool!) and his new bigger room!  We were becoming settled with our new life back home and loving it so much. 

On November 5, 2012, Christopher woke up, ate breakfast and began watching television.  He was staying with family at the time as the schools were having an in-service day and I had to work.  The night before, he had a low grade fever and used his nebulizer, but when he woke up the next morning he said that he felt fine and was not having any symptoms of asthma distress. 

Suddenly though, he jumped up and ran for his nebulizer to begin using.  Soon he was not able intake the medicine and had passed out.  My family began CPR on him and called EMS.  Christopher was stat-flighted to Kosair Children's Hospital, the same hospital that was able to help save his life on his first day.  At the hospital, we were told that they were unable to bring him back and he had lost his life. 

My son, at age 9, lost his fight with asthma.  Those are some of the hardest words to write and I still can't speak them or that he is gone.  He was so full of life, playing flag football and had dreams of becoming a soldier when he grew up.  He loved life so much!

After I lost my son, my sister told me about the American Lung Association and the annual Fight for Air Walk.  I perused the website and found some information related to a bill trying to pass through senate. After emailing ALA, I was contacted by a representative and have since helped attempt to push HB190 to help make Kentucky smoke-free, as well as formed Christopher's Army team to walk in memory of my precious son.  Team members are Soldiers of Christopher's Army.

My goal for the walk is to not only raise money for further programs and research for new medication, but also to spread the awareness of the severity of asthma.  Asthma took my son so quickly, we did not have time to think about what was happening.  Asthma medication should be researched further because a parent should not have to choose between medication or behavior.  And as a mother who has lost her son to this illness, that choice I made will forever plague me.