A Fight in Connecticut

Hilda Rodriguez, Connecticut 

Hilda Rodriguez says she watched her son’s dreams shatter due to asthma. As a youth, Alex Rodriguez was a fast runner. His passion for track and field was undeniable. Then, he started experiencing shortness of breath – while he’d had bronchitis and was prone to it, it was something more this time. He was diagnosed with asthma.

Even while medicated and using an inhaler, he was forced to sit out. His passion for track and field was sidelined.

Although Alex’s respiratory illnesses began in kindergarten, the impacts continued for years. As a young adult, Alex again set his hopes on something important– joining the armed forces. Upon submitting his health records and undergoing a physical, he was rejected due to his history of breathing difficulties, a condition that was traced back to his first bout with bronchitis. No medical waiver for Alex meant his mother, Hilda, was forced to tell her son again – some dreams can’t come true, “no matter how hard you try.”

Some dreams can’t come true, no matter how hard you try.

“Asthma and bronchitis pulled him away from the spot he loved, it prevented him from performing service to his country, and I have to think it has something to do with all those years of taking the bus, back and forth,” Hilda said, noting as a former bus driver that she knows firsthand just how toxic diesel pollution can be.

“You could smell the exhaust inside the bus,” she recalled.

When Alex told his mother he wanted to get involved in Chispa’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, she knew he was perfect for it – he is a fixer.

“I knew one day I could help make a change for the better,” said Alex. “Our whole community can.”