by Chandra Baldwin-Woods
An asthma attack turned my world upside just less than two years ago, and it has never been the same since. After returning home from football practice on a typical hot, muggy August day, my 16-year-old son Jovante suffered an asthma attack that rendered him unconscious from anoxic brain injury. Jovante’s father and I spent the next four days by his side in the hospital praying for his recovery, which was not to be.
I do not have adequate words to describe the pain of losing a child. It’s something no parent should ever have to experience. Knowing that we will never watch Jovante graduate high school, attend college or experience the joy of starting a family is a pain we must live with every day.
Jovante idolized Jerome “The Bus” Bettis for his courage to never let asthma stand in his way on or off the field. With proper treatment, Jovante’s doctor was confident that he could continue to pursue his passion for athletics, especially football, which runs deep in our family. Not only do I play on a women’s full contact football team, but Jovante’s father Ickey was a fullback for the Cincinnati Bengals. Both Ickey and I had asthma growing up and fully expected Jovante would someday grow out of it just as we thought we had.
When I hear those who undoubtedly know better — corporate polluters and even politicians in Congress — minimizing the serious health consequences caused by air pollution, my heart breaks all over again. How these people have the audacity to callously deny what is common information among those in the medical community, that air pollution causes asthma attacks and cuts short the lives of those we love most, is beyond me.
By fighting for air alongside the American Lung Association and Moms Clean Air Force, we are passionate about building a future where every child has healthy air to breathe. Cleaning up power plant pollution, tailpipe emissions and other air pollution sources will prevent thousands of asthma attacks every year while giving other children the chance to fulfill their dreams. It is through this work that the best memories of our wonderful, loving child live on.
We are also proud of the foundation and scholarship program we started in our son’s name to help fund the critical work of Cincinnati Children’s Asthma Research Division in addition to building organ donor awareness. To learn more about the Jovante Woods Foundation and the 3.8 to be Great Scholarship, please visit www.jovantewoodsfoundation.org.
I am truly glad to call you my mom
I really appreciate in hard times the way you make ends meet
I love you with all my heart and you’re the bomb
You taught me to work hard and never cheat
In past times, we’ve had our share of fights
Sometimes I may say your name followed by a swear
But still you’ve always encouraged me to reach new heights
I’m so sorry my asthma attacks gave you a scare
Without you, I would not be here
When I’m upset, you’ve always kept calm
With a house filled with six kids you found time to care
This is why I’m glad you are my mom
–Jovante Woods 1994-2010
Photo credit: moms clean air force