Driving with Diabetes: One Racer's Story
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) -- Every NASCAR driver has a ton of things on their mind when racing, but for driver Ryan Reed, there's an added challenge.
"I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2011, I was 17. And I was actually told I would never race again."
NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Ryan Reed currently competes in the #16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang. After his diabetes diagnosis 7 years ago, Ryan decided to take ownership of his condition and learn what he could do to manage it.
"First of all I was just kind of like, okay learn about diabetes and how do I manage it, and through doing a lot of research about it and researching athletes with diabetes and there's so many inspiring stories there," Ryan says.
And that now includes Ryan, who wanted to keep his racing dreams running. Managing diabetes is an around-the-clock commitment, which focuses on controlling a person's A1C, or blood sugar level.
When it comes to race-day, Ryan says there's a lot more to consider in order to keep his health in check, however, he and his team have created a safety net for success.
"Inside the car, it's pretty cool, I have a - it's called a Dexcom - and so this allows me to actually monitor my blood sugar levels, or I can watch my blood sugar throughout the whole race. There's a sensor that goes in my stomach and then it communicates wirelessly, so I think that's kind of the cornerstone of my management. And then from there if I'm too low or too high I can make adjustments - I have a drink that's high in sugar if my blood sugar's too low inside the car and then there's a guy trained in my Pit Crew that can actually give me an insulin injection in pit stop if I need him to," Ryan explains.
Teaming up with Lilly Diabetes is allowing Ryan to pursue his dream and help others do the same.
"I really wanted to use the NASCAR platform and once I got back into a race-car take the opportunity to use that to say, look, you don't have to give up on your dreams. You can work for it, you can fight for it. You can manage your diabetes. Work with your doctor, which is so so important, and go do what you love to do," says Ryan.
Diabetes affects nearly 30 million people across the nation. Lilly Diabetes is also the official diabetes health partner of NASCAR.