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 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.
This is the first in an “I Drive My Health” blog series that will feature personal stories from racing fans living well with diabetes.
My name is Olivia Jenkins. I’m 21 years old and I’m from Warren, Michigan. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 13 years ago on Jan. 28, 2003, when I was 8 years old.
I went to the doctor complaining of an earache, and my mom mentioned that I was constantly drinking water and going to the bathroom. Fortunately, my doctor knew the signs of diabetes and tested my blood glucose—and the result came back with a level close to 600. I spent three nights at the hospital getting started on insulin injections and learning about anything and everything diabetes related.
I started dancing at 3 years old and I didn’t let my diagnosis stop me from doing what I loved. I continued dancing until I finished middle school. When I got to high school, I joined the tennis team and played varsity all four years. Even though I had my ups and downs controlling my diabetes during some of the matches, some of my biggest accomplishments occurred while playing tennis. My doubles partner and I were the No. 1 doubles team in our league two years in a row—and we had an undefeated season our senior year.
Since finishing high school and starting college as a photography and graphic design major, I will admit, I haven’t quite been as active as I once was. Between classes, working, homework and the cold winters in Michigan, when I finally get free time, I just want to relax and not do anything. I know I should be more active and eat healthier, so this summer I hope to start making a change (since I won’t have as much going on). When I keep active and eat better, there is an improvement in my glucose readings, my A1C and my overall well-being.
Diabetes is a crazy, up-and-down journey. Managing type 1 diabetes is not easy. Every single thing that I do, every single thing that I eat and drink . . . everything affects my blood glucose. In addition to eating healthy and staying active, I also have to take insulin injections—no fewer than four times a day.
I credit part of my successes to my role models with diabetes, such as Ryan Reed. I became a fan of Ryan and the Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign as soon as I heard about it in 2013. Having someone with diabetes in the spotlight motivates me to never give up. If people like him can live their dreams doing what they love while living with diabetes, you can too.
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.