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Ashley Cornelius

Take a deep breath.  Easy, right? Breathing is so innate and effortless; we may go days without even thinking about it.  This isn’t true for everyone. For some, breathing is crushingly difficult, every breath is simultaneously a struggle and a gift.

Tuberculosis was rampant in the 1900’s and was the driving force behind many people’s pilgrimage to the Pikes Peak region.  According to Matt Mayberry, director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, “For 30 or 40 years, tuberculosis was our sole industry. People afflicted with the disease came to Colorado by the thousands to experience the high altitude, mineral springs, and ample sunshine credited for treating tuberculosis.” Thousands more sought job opportunities in the sanatoriums. By the mid-1920’s, there were fifteen sanatoriums across Colorado treating tuberculosis patients.

I was diagnosed with asthma at a young age, and the humidity of my home state of Michigan only exacerbated my condition. By the time I was three, I was spending eight months per year in the hospital. Seeking to provide a better life for her child, my mother moved us to Colorado Springs in hopes that the dry air and high altitude would provide some reprieve.  Over the last 19 years, I have learned that I am not the only person to owe their health to this city- Colorado Springs has a deep history of restoring physical health and providing a high quality of life for residents. To this day, through institutions El Pomar Foundation and many others, Colorado Springs strives to improve the physical, emotional, intellectual and civic well-being of its citizens.

Edwin Solly, a well-known English doctor suffering from tuberculosis, moved to Colorado Springs in search of a cure.  In 1902, his dear friend William Jackson Palmer provided funds to develop a cutting edge sanatorium for America’s wealthiest individuals.  The Cragmor Sanatorium, designed by Thomas MacLaren opened in 1905 and was nicknamed the "Sun Palace,” known for its sun soaked rooftop lounge area. Following the advent of pharmaceutical treatments for tuberculosis, in 1964 Governor John Love issued the Cragmor facility to the University of Colorado. To this day, it serves as Main Hall at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. While the purpose of Main Hall may have changed, the ultimate goal remains the same, to build a brighter tomorrow and improve the lives of their students and the deep history of hope is still palpable within the walls of Main Hall.

With each effortless breath, I am reminded that this city has been more than a home to me and my time at El Pomar has been more than a job; these opportunities have shaped me into a healthy and strong leader and resident of Colorado. Thank you Colorado Springs, for saving my life and giving me hope for the future.