Dozens of children with asthma enjoyed a visit this week from two-time US Olympic bobsledder and US Army Sergeant Nick Cunningham. The Monterey native spoke to campers enrolled in The Mark Velcoff, MD Asthma Camp sponsored by Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“It’s so nice to be here with you and it’s great that you are learning how to manage and control your asthma,” said Nick Cunningham, two-time winter Olympian with Team USA. “Remember, you can achieve any goal you set your mind to.”

Cunningham shared his life experiences with campers, emphasizing that every decision is important and even decisions early in life have allowed him to fulfill his Olympic dreams. “The decisions you make now, no matter how insignificant they may seem, can lead to great things,” said Cunningham.

The elite athlete also brought his two-man bobsled to Asthma Camp and showed campers how it works and how to sit in it to achieve top speed. Students were eager to learn more about bobsledding and erupted in a spontaneous ‘USA!’ chant.

“It was awesome meeting a real Olympic athlete,” said Asthma Camp participant, 8-year-old Davio Quintero. “The best part was being able to talk to Nick and stand next to the bobsled!”

The American bobsledder has been competing since 2008 and participated in both the two-man and four-man bobsled events at the 2010 Vancouver Games and the 2014 Sochi Games. Cunningham is currently training for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

The Mark Velcoff, MD Asthma Camp teaches children living with mild to severe asthma how to recognize triggers, manage symptoms and treat their condition. Medical staff from Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System including physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists supervises camp activities.

This year the camp is making adjustments to some of the outdoor activities due to the Soberanes Fire currently burning in nearby Big Sur. The forest fire is affecting air quality throughout Monterey County.

The final day of camp Friday includes an opening ceremony, Camp Olympics, a family lunch and graduation ceremony. Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System President and CEO Pete Delgado and Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter will be among those in attendance.