One of the many fun things that we got to do while at the Friends For Life Conference in Orlando was meet race car driver, Ryan Reed!
Ryan Reed is the 20 year old driver of the number 16 car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Why is this so cool? Because Ryan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011 and was told he would never race again.
We know that didn't happen! Thank Goodness!!
Ryan has not let his diabetes diagnosis keep him from reaching his dreams. I love stories like this because they are great examples for Sweets. I can tell her these things until I'm blue in the face but getting to meet someone who is actually doing this... totally different!
Sweets was able to get her picture taken with Ryan in front of his car! (Not his actual car... but possibly cooler because it was a simulator!) My picture got all burred, however, because someone bumped into me! I would have asked to take another but there was a really long line and I didn't want to hold things up longer than necessary!
** Check out those matching green bracelets!**
Ryan isn't just driving his race car and attending FFL this summer, though! Nope! He is also meeting with children (with diabetes) at local hospitals as part of an effort to continue to increase diabetes awareness and education. Lilly Diabetes is supporting Ryan and the American Diabetes Association's Drive to Stop Diabetes℠ national diabetes awareness initiative.
Last week while at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Ryan answered some questions. Sweets and I enjoyed reading his answers and we thought you might, too!
Q: How do you manage your blood sugar while racing?
A: My doctor came up with a sports drink base that has worked great for me while racing. I have a hole in the front of my helmet, I run a hose through it and I put a bite valve at the end of it, what it is basically is a camelback system – It’s easy because I don’t have to reach for a water bottle. I use it four times a race I would say. The day of the race I check my blood sugar about 15 times, maybe a little more. Before the race, I want to keep my blood sugar around 120 because obviously I don’t want to start too low but at the same time, my blood sugar goes high every race from adrenaline and dehydration, so I have to start a little bit on the lower side otherwise it will spike too much during the race
Q: How did you adjust to living with diabetes? What was it like to learn about diabetes while being on the road and racing?
A: When I first started racing with diabetes, I had a check list, but now that I have done it for a few years I don’t need a check list anymore. When I first got diagnosed, it was critical for me to keep a checklist of everything I needed to go on the road. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left my Dexcom or all my sensors at home. I would have my mom overnight them to me, or I would have to turn around and get them. There’s been times my parents drove four hours over night to bring them to me. I learned because of these things.
Q: How do you exercise on the road?
A: It’s finding time to do something, that’s the most important thing… If I have an hour after a race, I will go on a 3 or 4 mile run or take my bike to some tracks and go for a 30 mile ride – it’s just important for me to find something. When I’m on the road, It’s not always easy to find a gym to go lift weights, but then when I am home I need to make sure I do the strength training so I don’t fall behind on that. It’s tough, that’s probably been the toughest thing that I had to get used to. Last year, I only raced 6 times, so I worked out every day and never missed a work out. This year, I had to get a lot more creative with workouts, and just figure something out.
Here are some much better pics of Ryan with the kids at Joslin!
So go ahead and share this story with a person living with diabetes (no matter how old they are!). Maybe it will inspire them to go for their dreams and to not let diabetes hold them back!
And a big THANK YOU to Ryan for meeting with kids and sharing his story!!