Student Wins National Grant to Raise Asthma Awareness
Jacob Koshel wants to help others learn about the ailment.
After winning almost a nice-sized grant for his family and school, Jacob Koshel, 8, is breathing easy.
Last spring, the Koshel family caught wind of a nationwide grant program that aimed to divide $75,000 among 10 students who would put a face on asthma awareness in their respective schools.
Everyone Breathe – a program geared toward asthma education – recently announced the winners and Jacob was one of the select few to take in the grand prize — a $2,500 savings bond and a $5,000 grant for his school, Jacob’s mother, Amy Koshel, said.
When asked how Jacob breezed by hundreds of applicants to take the prize, Koshel said she gained an edge during the application process when she collaborated with Dolly Thomas, the principal of St. Joseph and John Catholic school.
Koshel’s and Thomas’s plan consisted of bringing in reputable speakers who could comment on the disease, distributing educational materials among the school’s student body and incorporating asthma lessons into the health curriculum.
“To be honest, I’m still stunned (by the win). It doesn’t even seem real,” Koshel said. “I think it’s a good beginning to help get the word out.”
She said that most are not entirely aware of how serious the disease can be. In Jacob’s case, one of several triggers, whether it be allergy-related or over-exertion, can create a painful and constrictive cough that will persist unless medicine or treatment is used to clear his airways.
“It has been an honor to be a part of this wonderful program,” Mary Joe Fernandez, tennis champion and Everyone Breathe spokeswoman said in a prepared statement. “I recognize and understand the challenges associated with managing asthma having lived with it for most of my life, and now as the mother of a child with asthma.
“I was truly touched by the personal stories outlined in the applications we received, and it is my hope that the savings bonds and school grants will help improve the standard and quality of asthma care and education both at home and in schools.”