Nearly three in four NASCAR® fans are impacted by diabetes, which affects approximately 30 million people nationwide. The Drive to Stop DiabetesSM campaign, presented by Lilly Diabetes in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association®, strives to empower Americans with diabetes to live well. The face of the campaign, NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ryan Reed, has type 1 diabetes and is an inspiration for all people with the disease.
As we have all realized at one point or another, life is full of surprises. Type 1 diabetes was definitely not one of the better surprises I received. Despite being born 20 years ago, I feel like my story really began in August 2007 when I was diagnosed with diabetes.
Although I always try to make lemonade out of lemons, adjusting to life with diabetes was not easy. Since I was only 11 years old when I was diagnosed, I could not fully comprehend the disease and did not realize how much of an impact it would have on my life.
Diabetes management is a lot to learn—you constantly need to remember things that never used to matter (i.e., counting carbohydrates, taking insulin, checking your blood glucose multiple times every day, maintaining a fitness routine). However, being the adaptable person I am, I believe I dealt with the change quite well. With my family’s support, I accepted that I did not have a choice—this was the way my life had to be.
Nine years later, diabetes has come to be a part of me just like my hair, nose or anything else. It’s just there. I am not limited by it. Anything I want to do in a given moment is up to me—I just have to keep my blood glucose in mind. The only moments I consciously think about diabetes are when, once in a while, someone asks me about the machine that’s in my pocket or the odd cable that’s attached to me. And, with a smile, I educate the person about my situation and at the same time raise awareness about diabetes.
I am an athlete. I show jump on international arenas—and diabetes does not distract me from my goals. I dedicate at least four hours every day to horseback riding. As a rider, it is my duty to train and prepare my three young horses for any challenges we might face in competition. My discipline and passion, stemming partly from diabetes and partly from caring for my horses, have had a significant influence on my approach to the sport.
Although I have diabetes, it is not the most significant thing about me. So, I suppose now would be a good time to start over and formally introduce myself. My name is Lisa, and I am 20 years old. I was born in New Jersey but currently live in Warsaw, Poland—my family was born there and I compete in show jumping championships such as the World Cup Qualifier for the Central European League. When I am not riding my horses, I spend each day in this beautiful city studying or socializing at my university. I have a Facebook page that I use to inspire others to pursue their ambitions despite diseases such as diabetes. I encourage them to embrace and accept their challenges, whatever they may be.
I support Ryan Reed and the Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign because it motivates people to continue enjoying life, even when diabetes is along for the ride. The moment people lose sight of that, the disease wins. Ryan Reed is an inspiration, and just as he encourages his fans to stay active and healthy with diabetes, my #IDriveMyHealth message is to know that diabetes is just a part of you. It doesn’t have to define you.
Are you a NASCAR fan impacted by diabetes? Share your healthy lifestyle tips with us on social media, using #IDriveMyHealth.
To learn more about the Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign and find out how to get involved, visit http://diabetes.org/drive.