Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States, and widely regarded as one of the most influential. His face is chiseled into the side of Mt. Rushmore and is recognizable to many school children today.
But many people don't know that this larger-than-life character had severe asthma as a child. His asthma was so bad that some of his doctors thought he wouldn't make it into adulthood.
With characteristic exuberance, Roosevelt tackled his problem head-on. The young Roosevelt was extremely rambunctious and energetic, constantly exercising and playing outside. He believe that his asthma could be overcome with pure gumption. One of Roosevelt's favorite games was to leave his house and head in a straight line for miles - climbing over rocks, slipping through fences, and swimming across any ponds that got in his way.
This boisterous, straight-to-the-point attitude served Roosevelt well throughout his life. He attended Harvard College, wrote a best-selling book, and then entered politics (despite an inheritance which could have provided a life of leisure). Roosevelt eventually became Vice President, and then President following McKinley's assassination.
Roosevelt is widely regarded as one of the best presidents American has ever seen. He was certainly one of the biggest characters. Roosevelt was once shot while giving a campaign speech. He ensured that the would-be assassin was not harmed, and then continued to speak for 90 minutes before going to a hospital. He said to the crowd:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."
Teddy Roosevelt did not let anything stop him - not even his asthma. He persevered through his hardships, both physical and emotional, and became one of the biggest characters in American history. While he is most famous for saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick," perhaps one of his lesser known quote is more appropriate for anybody struggling with health issues today:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
— Theodore Roosevelt