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Shelley Osterloh reportingAdversity can often make you stronger.
Case in point, a girl with a life threatening disease that takes her breath away.
12 year old Holly Webster has never known life without doctors, hospitals and severe asthma attacks. But this remarkable girl does not let her disease control her. She dreams of being a Olympic Gymnast. She is already a two time state champion and hopes to compete at the Bejing Games, even though its against all odds.
Holly Webster is a determined, strong 12 year old, who loves gymnastics.
Holly Webster: "I WANT TO GO TO THE OLYMPICS... IT'S MY DREAM... IT'S ALWAYS BEEN MY DREAM."
And her coach says she may have what it takes.
Mary Wright, Holly's Coach: "SHE HAS ALL THE ATTRIBUTES YOU NEED TO BE A GREAT GYMNAST, IT'S JUST GOING TO BE WHETHER WE HAVE THE HOURS IN THE GYM TO GET HER THE SKILLS SHE NEEDS TO BE A GREAT GYMNAST "
Holly misses weeks and weeks of school and training time because of severe asthma attacks and a weak immune system. She started having problems when she was just 2. By 4, she was diagnosed with asthma.
Holly Webster: "MY CHEST GETS TIGHT AND I CAN'T BREATHE"
Nancy Webster, Holly's Mother" SHE CAN BE FINE ONE MINUTE... AND THE NEXT MINUTE START TURNING PURPLE ON YOU. "
Asthma is a sudden inflammation of the soft tissue in the airways of the lungs, and there is no cure. Holly can only hold off the attacks with strong medications: drugs she eventually becomes immune to.
At times, she takes more than dozen pills a day. The side effects from one drug caused osteoporosis for a few months. And while the medication kept her alive, it also kept her from gymnastics for months.
John Webster, Holly's Father" "SHE WAS TOLD THERE AT THE HOSPITAL, TO DO NOT EVEN AS MUCH AS CARTWHEEL, BECAUSE... AND THAT WAS DEVASTATING, AND SHE WAS ABLE TO REBOUND FROM THAT"
In fact, rebounding is what Holly does best. With the help of her parents, she has developed a remarkable way of dealing with her condition: as outlined in two children's books she's written.
Holly Webster: "MY DAD, MY MOM, AND MY DOCTOR HAVE TAUGHT ME THAT JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A DISEASE DOESN'T MEAN I HAVE TO GIVE UP DOING WHAT I LOVE TO DO. I HAVE LEARNED THAT IT MEANS I WILL JUST HAVE TO WORK HARDER TO ACCOMPLISH THOSE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO ME"
Holly Webster: "ASTHMA ONLY MAKES OUR LUNGS WORK DIFFERENTLY, BUT NOT OUR MINDS, DREAMS OR HEARTS."
Holly Webster: "SO GIVE ME A CHANCE AND PLEASE BELIEVE IN ME. I MIGHT HAVE ASTHMA... BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE ME. "
Its an attitude fostered by parents who say illness shouldn't be an excuse. They say life's challenges should be turned from stumbling blocks to stepping stones.
Nancy Webster Holly's Mother: "SHE NEEDS TO REALIZE HER LIMITATIONS BUT LIVE HER DREAMS. SHE IS NOT TREATED AS A PERSON WITH ASTHMA... THAT'S PART OF HER.... BUT IT'S NOT WHO SHE IS. "
Holly Webster: " ASTHMA AFFECTS MY LUNGS, NOT MY DREAMS OR MY ABILITY TO REACH THEM. "
Holly has another goal after the Olympics. She wants to become a doctor and discover a cure for Asthma. And, in a way, she is already working toward that goal: Holly and her parents are farmily team captains for Utah County in the American Lung Association's first asthma fundraising event.
The "Blow the Whistle on Asthma" event is Saturday June 14th at Sugar House Park.
Money raised there, will help find a cure for Holly's disease, Asthma.