CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago mother from the Southwest Side is being honored today with the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America for her fight to clean-up the air in and around the Little Village neighborhood.

Kimberly Wasserman was a 21-year-old single mother when her two-month old son showed dramatic asthma.

“They put him on a nebulizer and I was just sitting there holding in my arms with this air mask in front of his face as the medicine came out I just kept getting angrier and angrier,” said Wasserman.

That anger fueled her and sent her on a 15-year fight against two coal plants in Little Village and Pilsen.

A doctor confirmed her son was sick because of the air from those plants.

“This is a result of the environment that we live in,” said Wasserman.

A Harvard study shows a disproportionate rate of respiratory problems, premature deaths and miscarriages on the Southwest Side of Chicago. Kim mobilized residents to protest and lobby public officials and finally got the coal plants to agree to close.

Kim says she will use the monetary award for her work to go back to college.