By Nancy R. Elliott The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON – Take a deep breath. Most of us take that next breath for granted. Asthma sufferers, however, know just how precious it is. This Saturday, the first Dayvon Asthma Awareness bike ride and picnic reminds us how serious this disease is, and to take action to address it.
The event is named in memory of Dayvon McClendon of Anderson who was claimed by asthma in June this year at just 32 years old. His family and friends are pulling together to establish the bike ride and picnic. In addition to the fun of the ride, hamburgers and hot dogs, games, prizes and music, there will be informative speakers and pamphlets.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services describes asthma as a “chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways” where sufferers cough, wheeze and experience pain and difficulty breathing, frequently triggered by events or stimuli. More than 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, with about 7 million of these children.
Dayvon McClendon was one of those who coped with asthma from early childhood.
“He had a lot of problems throughout his years,” recalled Dayvon’s mom, Rosemary Townsend, of Anderson. She noted there were plenty of things that could trigger attacks. “He had allergies to pollen, mold, dust, paint, fumes, burning trash ….”
McClendon needed medications to control and react to asthma attacks.
“He didn’t have insurance,” Townsend noted. “He had one inhaler that cost over $400 – for that medication, there is no generic.” As a result, McClendon did not have all of the recommended medications.
“I think if he would have had all of his maintenance medications, it would have been different,” said Townsend. She noted how difficult it is to see someone suffer without being able to catch their breath.
McClendon earned an associate degree in business from Ball State University. He also attended Kenny Academy of Barbering. He enjoyed cutting hair and riding his motorcycle. He had four kids, ranging in age from 1 to 14. In late June this year, McClendon had just recently started a new job in construction and remodeling.
“It was a great day for him,” recalled Townsend. McClendon had worked, and visited with neighborhood friends.
“He came home and had a severe asthma attack,” said Townsend. As he left for the hospital, Townsend noted, “He said he wasn’t going to make it this time.” Dayvon was sadly correct.
Connie Turner-Fields is another mom who lost her child all too soon to asthma. Dreama Epps was just 44 years old, with three kids, when asthma claimed her life.
“It was a mind opening adventure with my daughter,” said Turner-Fields. She recalled times when her daughter could not get up the stairs without stopping for treatment.
“I don’t think a lot of people are aware maybe even of early symptoms, and of what someone with severe asthma goes through,” said Turner-Fields. “I do not want my daughter’s life to be in vain – if I could help even one person.”
She jumped on board with the effort to raise awareness through the bike ride and picnic, along with the family of Katonya Jones – also lost to asthma at age 29 in 1997.
“I hope to see a lot of people turn out,” said Townsend. “We’d like everyone to come out and have a good time.”
Bicycles and motorcycles are welcome to the ride, which will leave from the park and go a few miles in the area. Riders will return to the park for all the fun activities. Donations are welcome for the effort.
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If you go What: 1st Dayvon Asthma Awareness bike ride and picnic When: Saturday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. Where: Jackson Park, 22nd and Raible Avenue in Anderson More info: Bicycles and motorcycles are welcome. Following the ride, there will be games, music, prizes and food at the park, as well as information.