haika clothing: justin’s asthma awareness story

Today, I’m happy to share a piece from Justin Castillo, founder of Haika Clothing Company. If you’ve spent some time here, you’ll know I’m a big fan of t-shirts, and even more-so when there’s a story behind the shirt. Today, a true testament to put in the Badassmatics file, Justin shares how he got started, how he refuses to let asthma hold him back from living an active life, and hopes the message within his clothing will help others with asthma live the same through provoking thought and healthier lifestyle choices (though, I can’t say I’d condone his act of leaving his rescue inhaler at home–keep that shit with ya, people, it’s important!).  Thanks, Justin!

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It all started in March 2013. 9 long months ago, but for me seemed to go by in a blink of an eye. I was reading an issue of Entrepreneur Magazine and learning about all these companies starting from nothing and seeing where they were headed. I thought to myself, “Why can’t I think of something?” I kept seeing all these clothing companies that would donate or give back to organizations and charities such as breast cancer, autism, the fight against hunger, etc. These are all great causes, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed like everyone was helping the same cause. Also, the shirts these companies would offer, just didn’t fit my style. All they would sell were message tees. For me, I like to wear active/streetwear clothes that fits the surf & skate demographic. My “Ah Ha” moment came when I realized why don’t I create a something that supports a cause I am passionate about and offers t-shirts that fits my sense of style. Thus, Haika was born!
Why asthma you ask? I have had it since childhood, so it made perfect sense. I searched all over the internet and couldn’t find a anyone that supported asthma, in terms of a clothing company. So, I combined my two passions: helping those with asthma, and, creating a clothing line that fits my sense of style. Instead of creating message tees, I wanted to create something where the message was already in the brand. Don’t let asthma take control of you. You must take control of it! I want people to do what they love, and not let anything get in the way of that. Whether is it asthma or not.
I’ve played competitive sports, such as baseball and football, throughout my whole life. Of course there were times where I would induce an asthma attack, but I didn’t want that to be an excuse of why I couldn’t continue to participate. I felt that those experiences made me stronger physically and, more importantly, mentally. In some sort of weird & twisted way, i’m glad to have asthma. In a sense of not to take things for granted.
I took it a step further and incorporated a more healthier style of living by exercising and eating properly. I found out that this has dramatically decreased the use of my inhaler and asthma attacks, as well as increasing my energy level. All I want to do now is get out and enjoy the outdoors. I still take my preventative inhaler two times twice a day, but I can leave the home comfortably without my fast acting inhaler. To know that you have it that well managed and under control is a big step and confidence builder for anyone who has asthma.
From idea to reality, I want to see Haika as a company and project, grow not only throughout the U.S, but worldwide. With help of awesome people like Kerri and Stephen we can spread this message and help millions of people with asthma by supporting research and study efforts. With each purchase, $5 is donated to an asthma organization or charity in our customers community. That way they can have a direct impact and feel great about what they are doing! Visit haikaclothing.com for more information.

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Beyond a potential conversation-starter, 20% of your purchase of a Haika Clothing t-shirt will go towards an asthma-related non-profit organization. If you’re working in the best interests of people with asthma and are interested in partnering with Justin, drop him an e-mail!

mission: acsm, asthma and action!

My friend Dia (yes, Dia who sent me chocolate with pop rocks in it!) and I have epic Skype sessions a few evenings a month.  We are in reality supposed to be working on a project when we have them, except often very little work gets done and lots of ridiculousness occurs.  Usually the ridiculousness involves kinesiology-related things and nerdiness and it is fabulous regardless of the lack of work we accomplish. (Related: Dia is awesome, and we are on a mission to volunteer at Camp Asthmatopia in the summer. For real. Possibly].

Last night, we were discussing prepping for my pulmonology appointment today and how I intended to be a pain in the butt questioning about exercise prescription again [except it definitely didn’t happen because I didn’t include it on my list of things to address when I was talking with the clinical nurse, so basically nothing new happened], and how I was going to go in with the ACSM Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities textbook that I am reading just for fun in the waiting room [I also had a research article on teen asthma education, because I am teaching teens about asthma on Thursday!].

So Dia initiated a challenge in which she would donate $10 to the charity of my choice if I took a picture of the book in the waiting room by the reception desk, and a bonus if I got a picture of it with the old-school spirometer, so I could prove it to her.  [By the way, I freaking owned that spirometer today.]

Here is the bonus:

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Soon enough after getting the pictures to Dia, an e-mail popped into my inbox.

A donation has been made to the ASTHMA SOCIETY OF CANADA (at CanadaHelps.org) in your honour.

Kerri, You rocked the ACSM mission. Here is hoping, that we can inspire EVERYONE […] to Get Up, Get Active and Get Involved.

Then I thought . . . why not take this one step further?

If you feel moved, I would love to have you join me on this journey. The Asthma Society of Canada is a non-profit organization striving to improve the lives of people living with asthma through education and empowerment, and encouragement of living active lives with asthma. The TeamAsthma program was launched in 2010 to provide a forum for encouragement of activity as well as advocacy for people with asthma and increase awareness of the Asthma Society to the general public at activity-promoting events through providing athletes with t-shirts to wear at races or other events.

I have created a CanadaHelps page in support of the Asthma Society of Canada with a request for donations to be put towards the Team Asthma.ca program, empowering people with asthma to get active to OWN their asthma!  (I hope to become more deeply involved in this program in the future, so stay tuned.)

Every bit helps, so THANK YOU for taking the time to read this and even consider donating now or in the future, or for sharing the page or this post!