Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fan Stories: Charlie Kimball

I asked IndyCar fans to share their best interaction with the drivers of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy. We'll be sharing the best of those stories over the remainder of the season. Today's story is from fan Magdalena Brown:

I've been a Charlie Kimball fan since the first time I saw his Novo Nordisk car. My father went through a terrible time with diabetes, and it really destroyed his health in his later years. Knowing I and the rest of my loved ones were at high risk, we had to make big lifestyle changes. Still, I was diagnosed with diabetes last year, which really shook me up badly, since I had seen my dad go through so much.

I was able to attend the Indy 500 for the first time 2008 this past year, and sure enough, we were able to find the garage with the #83 car back in Gasoline Alley! My sister and I took all sorts of photos, and were getting ready to leave when Charlie came out and signed a few autographs. We told him a bit about our family's history with diabetes, and while he kept signing for the fans, he took a good five minutes to talk with us about our trip, our current situation, and answered our (probably silly!!) questions about his month at Indianapolis. He was so encouraging and friendly and polite the whole time and it made our trip back to Indy one for the record books! So soon after losing my dad, it was touching to have that sort of kindness.

I don't know if Charlie remembers us or not, but neither my sister or me will forget him taking that time for two silly middle-aged ladies. We were so happy when he won this last week, and will cheer until we go bananas every time for that great young man! He's a great ambassador for diabetics everywhere, and a great reminder the fight can go on!

Magdalena Brown
Sacramento, CA

(If you have a great story about IndyCar fan/driver interactions, it isn't too late! Send them to mail.rpgblog(at)gmail.com, along with you name (or initials) and hometown! We'll publish the best on the site through the rest of the racing season!)

3 comments:

  1. I have a Charlie Kimball story too. My son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in October 2010. He was 15 months old at the time. My wife and I were lucky to have flexible work situations and we both more-or-less worked part-time for 6 weeks or so after our son’s diagnosis as we adjusted to caring for him and working to adjust his daycare routine. It was an incredibly terrifying and overwhelming experience, and I really did not know how we would adjust to this diagnosis. Because of this, I will never forget sitting in my office – not long after we returned going to work regularly – reading that Charlie had signed to go racing in IndyCar with Chip Ganassi. Despite the fact that I attended my first IndyCar race when I was 3 and have attended every Indy 500 since I was in the first grade, I had not heard of Charlie because I don’t closely follow the ladder series. But obviously I am a big IndyCar fan, so reading that a driver with Type 1 diabetes was going to race in IndyCar and the Indy 500 was the first time after my son’s diagnosis that I felt like everything would be okay.

    We have closely followed Charlie in every race throughout his IndyCar career. When we recently started using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to help manage my son’s diabetes, we explained to him that this is the same device Charlie uses when he is racing. With that, my son’s anxiety about this new device disappeared for a while as he became fixated on the idea of showing Charlie that he has a CGM too. Because we recently moved back to Indy, we finally had a chance to meet Charlie at an event this last May. Prior to his arriving at the event, his girlfriend Kathleen approached us because my son was decked out in Charlie’s gear. We chatted for a while and later when Charlie arrived, Kathleen made sure we got to meet him . He was so great with my son, and he was really happy to see my son’s CGM and discuss it with him.

    There is a part of me that feels like my son’s hopes and dreams are in that racecar with Charlie. That with every turn of the wheel, Charlie is proving to me, my son, and the world that this awful, awful disease doesn’t have to define you or what you do. That it is something to manage, but it doesn’t have to manage you. I am so very, very grateful for that.

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