Asthma won't slow 7th-grader


May 27, 1999|By Judy Reilly | Judy Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NIKI HAAS HAS HAD A very busy year. The seventh-grader at Northwest Middle School has managed to act in a school play, perform with the school chorus, play the violin in front of a demanding judge at the State Solo and Ensemble Contest and make a trip to the White House to meet first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The latter honor stemmed from a recommendation from counselors at Camp Superkids in Silver Spring, a camp for children with asthma. Niki has attended the camp every summer for years, and her energy and enthusiasm captured the attention of camp staff. They recommended her to represent the American Lung Association, camp sponsor.

Niki's recent visit to the White House was part of the administration's publicity campaign on behalf of a $68 million grant researching children and asthma.

Niki has battled asthma since birth and has had her share of emergency visits to the hospital and trips to the nurse's office at school. Niki says that when she was younger, the hospital was her second home. But she tries to not let the condition slow her down.

"There are a lot of sports I'd like to do, like running, and the asthma affects my timing for a lot of things, but I just take my medicine and keep going," she says.

The vivacious 12-year-old manages a host of activities that most would find challenging: violin lessons, volunteer work, softball, jazz band, show choir, orchestra, and taking on the clarinet, saxophone and French horn.

"The wind instruments will help me control my breathing," she says.

Niki credits asthma for her high maturity level.

"I kind of like having it -- it gives me a responsibility," she says. "I have to take medicine right on schedule because my life depends on it."

Niki's mother, Jacy Haas, notes that Niki is a huge help around the house, helping take care of three younger siblings, ages 14 months to 3 years.

Back to that White House visit: Jacy Haas gave a personal account of asthma and family life to a room full of reporters and congressmen in the Roosevelt Room, chosen because its namesake, Teddy Roosevelt, had asthma.

The American Lung Association declared May "Breathe Easy Month." For tips on breathing more easily during allergy season, contact the association at 800-586-4872 or

Memorial Day service

For most of us, Memorial Day weekend signifies the beginning of summer, and we'll go to picnics, the pool, or add to the Bay Bridge beach traffic to christen the first week of vacation season.

The folks at Union Bridge Veterans of Foreign Wars, Union Memorial Post 8806, remember the day and use it to commemorate those who fought in wars to preserve freedom and democracy.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Monday, the post will hold a memorial service honoring those who fought and died in battle for the United States. The ceremony takes place in front of the monuments the post has built and dedicated to soldiers who fought in conflicts from World War I to recent wars.

Westminster Municipal Band will perform and Tina Grimes will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Ronnie Reese will sing Lee Greenwood's "Some Gave All." Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Thomas Hatchel will give the keynote address.

Grace Strine, who has organized the services for 20 years, says the post has been holding the commemoration since its inception 50 years ago.

"The service means a lot to me," said Strine, whose father was in the military for 27 years, whose daughter served in the Marines, and whose son is a Marine stationed in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Critter problems

When I went out to check the progress on my perennial flower bed this spring, I noticed that instead of the promise of glorious blooms, critters had declared the garden home. Lots of tunnels dug by ambitious rodents had practically destroyed years of work and patience.

Wildlife Damage Control in Annapolis came to the rescue. The agent who answered my call diagnosed the problem as chipmunks that the family cat can't catch as fast as they're multiplying and gave sound advice. It's a wonderful public service at 800-442-0708.

Judy Reilly's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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