Mia Wagner: Tackling Asthma in Buffalo

December 02, 2009

Mia Wagner: Tackling Asthma in Buffalo
Mia Wagner: Tackling Asthma in Buffalo

Click Here to watch a video of Mia on and off the Football field.

17 years ago, Amelia “Mia” Wagner was born in Hamburg, NY.  She was born a healthy baby, but started having difficulty breathing during her toddler years.  When she was just three years old, she was diagnosed as a severe asthmatic.

When Mia was 10 years old, she participated in the American Lung Association’s Open Airways for Schools program at Frontier Central Middle School.  Mia learned how to recognize her triggers and better control her asthma, as well as relaxation skills for when she had an asthma attack. Often times, when an individual is having an asthma attack and cannot breathe, their anxiety levels rise and their breathing becomes more difficult. Unfortunately, every time Mia has an asthma attack, this is what happens to her. The program taught Mia how to be come an “asthma expert” and improve her asthma management skills so she could lead a healthier, more active life and participate in the things that she loved to do—such as sports. 

After participating in the Open Airways program, Mia went on to excel as a star athlete, something she never thought she could do before. She is now a cheerleader, a lacrosse team captain, and even plays recreational football with some of the boys. 

Despite her achievements, asthma continues as a potential threat she must face every day.  In September of 2008, Mia almost lost her life due to asthma.  She had a severe asthma attack, was sent to the emergency room, and was brought home.  That same night, she had another severe asthma attack that left her fighting for her life as the paramedics arrived at her house.  She describes that evening as a night that she will never forget.  She said that she felt like someone was strangling her and that she could not do anything about it but try to relax and use the techniques that the program instructor taught her. 

Mia credits the Open Airways program with saving her life.  She said that without learning how to relax during an asthma attack, she could have died that evening.  Mia spent a week in the intensive care unit at Buffalo Children’s Hospital.  Mia reached out to the American Lung Association in New York, shortly after her release from the hospital, wanting to give back to the organization that she feels has done so much for her. 

Today, Mia is actively involved in our “Blow the Whistle on Asthma and Lung Disease” Walk and recruits a team of more than 25 people to make the trip from Hamburg to Rochester.  She has raised over $2,000 for the American Lung Association in New York, and continues to educate others in her school of the devastating effects that asthma has on children.  Recently, Mia was able to convince her principal to dedicate a dress down day to the American Lung Association in her name.  We feel that Mia is a shining example of a student who thrived because of the opportunity she had to participate in our Open Airways for Schools program.