My World Diabetes Day Hero is Ryan Reed, a race car driver with type 1 diabetes, founder of the non-profit foundation Ryan’s Mission. Ryan supports efforts to find a cure for the disease that turned his world upside down about a year and a half ago alongside building awareness as he chases his dream of becoming the first known person with type 1 diabetes to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Ryan was diagnosed with diabetes in February 2011 at the age of 17. The diagnosis came during a pivotal time when he was pushing forward into the professional racing world. He grew up in a small town called Bakersfield located in the state of California where he started racing go-karts at the age of 4. His passion for racing came from watching his father and former NASCAR professional, Mark Reed.
Ryan slowly worked his way up the racing ladder until one day he decided to move to the capital of racing, North Carolina. In the midst of the upcoming move, Ryan experienced un-quenchable thirsts, frequent bathroom breaks and extreme weight-loss. His concerned parents took notice and brought him to their local family doctor where he was immediately diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He was told that the disease would never allow him to chase his dream of becoming a professional driver. Ryan and his family began researching and found a world-renowned endocrinologist named Dr. Anne Peters. She connected Ryan with her team which includes a Nutritionist and Registered Nurse, recommended an appropriate daily dosage of insulin, suggested a trainer and gave him the green flag to race again.
18 months later, Ryan has worked very hard at adjusting his workouts and eating habits to get his diabetes under control, achieving A1C’s of 5.3! While also figuring out the racing world and what it takes to succeed, Ryan realized that with his career choice, he has the platform to reach and inspire many other people with diabetes. He founded Ryan’s Mission to build awareness both in and out of the racing community and show all people with diabetes that you don’t have to let the disease stop you.
The fact that Ryan has an awesome and optimistic attitude even after being hit with such life-changing news and battling through the tough times at a very crucial age and major point in his career, just shows that this young man is a Hero to look up to.