SALT LAKE CITY — Cherise Udell spent her early years as a guide through the Amazon jungle. Armed with a 17-inch machete, she said she was ready for any challenge.
When she moved to salt lake city in 2006, she found something to fight for: Making Utah's air cleaner for her children...and all of us.
"I call myself a full-time mom, but when really look at it...there is no way," she said.
That's because Udell wears many hats. One of them is the founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air. Udell launched the organization after moving to Utah in 2006. At the time, she noticed a sort of murkiness to the air.
"This doesn't look healthy," she said. "This doesn't seem right. Why is nobody talking about it?"
She felt compelled to do something in order to protect her two daughters. So far, her efforts have paid off.
"I never thought organized moms would be able to pass legislation, in our first attempt, that would retrofit school buses in Utah," she said.
She also successfully lobbied the state to build the Mountain View Corridor further away from 21 local elementary schools.
Protecting them exceeds beyond buckling them in their car seats correctly, giving them vitamins or a healthy diet," she said. "It also is making sure they have clean air to breathe."
Despite her success, the work takes its toll. Running the organization means a busy schedule and she said she sometimes puts in 60 hour weeks.
She makes sure to include daughters, Sophia and Ella, and even the neighborhood kids.
Sunday, that meant looking over "clean air" posters for an elementary school contest.
"I need to do everything I can as a woman, mother and activist to make it safe for my children and for other children," she said.
It's a fight she says she won't give up on until we all can breath a little easier.
"I feel like it's the birthright of every child to breathe clean air, and that's what I fight for," she said.