Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ritter talks about asthma

Gov. Bill Ritter today shared his personal experiences with asthma with a group of children who attend National Jewish Medical and Research Center’s Kunsberg School. It was the first time the Governor has talked publicly about his asthma.

The Governor spoke to and then jogged with 32 Kunsberg School students who are participating in the Colorado Kids Marathon Milers Program as part of this coming weekend’s Colfax Marathon activities. The kids, who are living with asthma and other respiratory illnesses, have already run a cumulative 25.2 miles over the past few weeks as part of the training. The final one-mile fun run is scheduled for Saturday.

Gov. Ritter jogged with the children for 15 minutes inside the school’s gymnasium. “You are great to have already run 25 miles,” Gov. Ritter said before the event. “I just want you to know that I also have asthma, but I have been able to manage it and to keep exercising. I bicycle a few times a week. I really applaud you kids for working so hard on this.”

The Governor won a few laughs when he joked: “I’ll run with you, but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up. If I run slowly, it’s not because of my asthma – it’s because I’m old!”

After jogging with the children, Gov. Ritter encouraged them to “keep exercising, keep taking your medicine and keep doing what you need to do. I really, really admire you.”

Colorado has the second-highest prevalence of asthma of any state in the nation – an estimated 7.1 percent of the population. That amounts to about 250,000 people, including 90,000 children.

The Kunsberg School teaches 60 to 90 children in kindergarten through eighth grade from around the metro area. The school helps children whose education has lagged because of their illnesses get caught up so they can return to traditional classrooms.