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Emily L., IL

The pain is excruciating. Each cough tears through my lungs; each breath burns more than the last. The cough controls my life. I can’t run, I can’t be outside for long; I can’t even leave the house without inhalers and an EpiPen strapped to my belt. Weeks of my life are lost when this illness attacks my body with its fire, preventing me from even leaving my bed.

Almost a dozen doctors couldn't stop the cough from waging its war. "The most I can do is make you comfortable," they would say while writing yet another prescription for pain medication. School already gives enough work to keep me busy, but when the cough and the dizzying medicines barge into my life, the piles of work tower over my bedside table while I'm helpless to do so much as pick up a pencil.

Though this cough has bombarded its way into my life, in a strange way, it is my greatest strength. If anything, my illness has made me work even harder to live a normal life. But I shouldn't have had to work so hard to be normal. I shouldn't have had to suffer through asthma. I should have had clean air.

I'm 19 years old now and my asthma is a part of my life, I can't even imagine the person I would be without it, but no one deserves to go through the pain I have experienced. If there is a way to help just one child with their illness or pain, then something needs to be done.

I want to fight for clean air for the countless children who will have the same childhood I have had. I want to fight for clean air so that they can run with their friends, play outside, not worry about an attack every minute, and just do what kids do. Asthma is already a part of me, but if we can keep it out of other people's lives, then we have to fight for them.

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