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.
Holding the cold microphone in my hand for the first time at age 6, I looked out at the crowd and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to sing and entertain people for the rest of my life. I was already performing and entertaining to anyone who would listen. Yes, I was that kid.
Hi, my name is Amanda Jo. I am a country music singer and songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee. I am also a person with type 1 diabetes.
I will never forget the day my dad picked me up from school and took me to the doctor to get a routine checkup, 16 years ago. While my dad and I saw the doctor, my mom spoke with her friend on the phone. She told her friend: “I’m sure she’s fine. It’s not like she has diabetes or anything.”
Another phone call came in later that afternoon, one that would change my life. I had type 1 diabetes. I was fortunate that they had caught it early. My blood sugar was only in the 250s at diagnosis—I was still early in the honeymoon stages of the disease.
Although the diagnosis came as a complete shock to my family, I quickly decided to not let it stop me from following my dreams of becoming a country music singer. I moved to Nashville with a dream in my heart, a car full of belongings and an insulin pump on my side. Since that time, I’ve recorded an album full of my stories, travelled all over the United States and performed on hundreds of stages. I am living my dream.
Managing diabetes as a country music singer can be complicated. I’ve learned to be prepared for anything. Finding healthy meals is challenging on the road—it’s very unpredictable. I make sure to have plenty of snacks and glucose sources on hand in case I can’t eat meals on time. I also make a conscious effort to stay hydrated; zero-calorie fitness drinks are my preferred choice.
The most important tools I use to manage my diabetes are my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. The ability to know what my blood sugar is and the direction it’s headed at the push of a button is lifesaving. I am able to quickly peek at my CGM on stage without anyone seeing. I can make small adjustments via my insulin pump . . . and continue on with the show.
I was first introduced to Ryan Reed and the Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign after his 2015 win at Daytona. The more I found out about Ryan and his story, the more I felt connected to him. He is another person with type 1 diabetes who leads an active lifestyle. I love that he did not let the disease interfere with his dream of being a NASCAR driver. He also reaches out to others with diabetes to encourage them to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle and follow their dreams.
I live a fun-filled and crazy life. I wake up in different cities at different times, play music for new crowds and meet new people almost every day. The highs and lows of diabetes are not always simple to manage with my adventurous life. But I refuse to let it stop me from doing what I truly love. Why would I?
My biggest #DriveYourHealth recommendation is this: Don’t let diabetes stop you from following your dreams.
Look out for me the next time I’m on the road in your hometown!
Are you a NASCAR fan impacted by diabetes? Share your healthy lifestyle tips with us on social media, using #DriveYourHealth.
To learn more about the Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign and find out how to get involved, visit http://diabetes.org/drive.