[media-credit name=”Venturini Motorsports” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]In February 2011, Ryan Reed was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and was told that he would never be able to race again. However, after getting in contact with a doctor through IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball, he was told that it was possible.
Now a year and three months later, Reed finds himself behind the wheel of the No. 15 JDRF car for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series. After two races this season, he sits sixth in points after finishing 12th at Daytona and Mobile.
When he’s not behind the wheel of a racecar, Reed is spreading word about JDRF and Ryan’sMission. JDRF is the world’s largest funding provider for research towards curing, treating and preventing T1D and its complications. Ryan’s Mission is a non-profit organization that Reed formed to help build awareness, become a role model and positively touch the lives of others.
Reed spoke of both JDRF and Ryan’sMission, talking about events that he has taken part of so far this year and some future events…..
Ashley McCubbin: How has it been for you working with JDRF?
Ryan Reed: JDRF has been unbelievable to work with. We’ve done so many incredible events so far this year and the relationship couldn’t anymore organic and we’ve just both have enjoyed all the great things we’ve done together. I mean, I really feel like we not only have been achieved great things so far, but the things we’ll be able to do in the future are even better.
AM: Why did you want to get behind JDRF to begin with?
RR: It kind of really happen organically. We were testing for the ARCA race in Daytona in December, Advanced Auto Parts contacted us and said we have a little girl named Makayla who wants to meet you and just figure out how you’ve compete with the disease. I said absolutely, and we were trying talking about JDRF. I had been talking about it for 10 minutes and I wanted to figure out how to get involved. I had my foundation and all, but we weren’t getting far. So when I got the chance to meet this little girl, I thought it was great.
So when we talked about JDRF, I thought it was pretty cool and wanted to learn more about them. Their headquarters are inNew Yorkand my dad was inNew Yorkin December and he said he’d stop in there and drop off my portfolio and see if they want to do anything with me. They were like so excited and ever since, it’s just been an amazing relationship and everything has been good and had good intentions.
AM: If you could, talk about why it is important for you to spread the word about JDRF.
RR: Well, I mean being a T1D (Type 1 Diabetic), it obviously hits close to home. It’s important to me because they’ve done amazing things up to this point – obviously there’s no cure yet, but the medical advances they’ve participated in are just unreal.
AM: How did Ryan’s Mission come about?
RR: That was actually very near after I was diagnosed – well, I was first told I wasn’t going to be able to race, but then was told I’d be able to. Right after that, I knew I wanted to do this. I know other kids are being told that they won’t be able to do things and only some are lucky enough to find doctors that are as supportive as mine and able to still chase their dreams. So Ryan’s Mission was formed almost immediately and I just wanted to show kids and spread that message and not be held back.
[media-credit name=”Ryan Reed Racing” align=”alignleft” width=”266″][/media-credit]AM: I know you’ve been to some Checkers Hockey Games and some games in Bakersfield, California over the past couple of months. How has that experience been for you spreading word about Ryan’s Mission and JDRF?
RR: That’s been so much fun. I was a hockey fan growing up, played road hockey growing up, and followed the local hockey teams. I’ve always been a fan of the sport so to combine the two, fan of one sport, passion for the other, it’s just really a lot of fun just to be there. Then to be able to have all these kids come up to me and tell them how I inspire them and how much whenever they don’t want to take their shot and their parents tell them but, ‘Ryan takes his shots. If he can do it, then you can’ and they say okay. It’s unbelievable to hear and such a motivation on-and-off the track to keep doing my part in my career not just for myself, but for those kids to continue watch and get inspired.
AM: I noticed lots of kids wanted to come by, meet you, get your autograph. How is it for you talking to the kids?
RR: Any time a driver has fans, it means a lot to them. Any driver will tell you how much the fans mean to them and how fortunate they feel to have fans. Espically with my group of fans, they’re so loyal. They have unconditional ties to me, whether I win, lose or draw, with the T1D and they’re so supportive and all they want to do is help and they want to learn. Anytime a little kid comes up to me to get an autograph, I have a connection with them, so I think in my case, it’s a little bit different. Whether it’s a Type 1 Diabetic fan or not, it means a lot to me.
AM: Last month, I know you met with Congressman Kevin McCarthy. Talk about that experience, but also how important it is to have his support with the Special Diabetes Program.
RR: That was really cool. That was the first time I had done anything with the Remember Me Campaign. So when I got the call to do that, I was really excited. When I showed up there, Kevin was a great guy, really down to earth. First thing we do when I walked in, we talked about racing. So we talked about racing for a bit and then I started telling him all the great things that JDRF has done. He was so supportive; he really a great guy. It was a lot of fun and a good experience.
I think there was three or four of us, myself included, kids with Type 1 Diabetes from all ages. There was a little girl, a little eight years old boy – it was great to watch the whole Diabetic community come together and raise awareness and hopefully find a cure. The funding from that is crucial to JDRF so we all felt it was a obligation to go there and perform and show Kevin why it is important.
AM: This weekend, I know that the showcar will be at the Long Beach Grand Prix. It may seem odd to some to have it at an IndyCar event, but maybe talk why you would want to have it there.
RR: Long Beach isn’t a NASCAR event, but it’s a beautiful car that gets a lot of attention and it’s just another tool to raise awareness for JDRF. That’s kind of one of my goals is to just to raise awareness for JDRF. It’s a cool looking racecar, they look at it, do a little research on JDRF and learn more about diabetes, it’s for the better.
A lot about what Ryan’s Mission is about is I really want diabetes to not be taboo. It does have a stigma about it and I don’t want that. I want people to be educated; I want people to understand it. A kid reaches to try and take a shot at the dinner table, people want to freak out. It’s just something that you have to deal with; it’s not a big deal. I think any kid that they don’t want to be treated weird or different because of it. A kid has asthma – people don’t freak out when he pulls out his inhaler. I want it to be accepted and like I said, I don’t want it to have a stigma.
[media-credit name=”Ryan Reed Racing” align=”alignright” width=”255″][/media-credit]AM: I know the LA. Car Connection Cool and Classic Car Show is coming up later this month. Talk about being involved with that and helping Alec Buckner with his quest to raise money.
RR: That is going to be really fun. L.A. Car Connection is a really great group of people with some cool cars. I actually got to drive a Ferrari when I was hanging out with them in L.A. when I was hanging out with them in L.A. one day. So that’s going to be a lot of fun, as well as raising money for JDRF. Like I said, it’s going to be a fun and great all the way around. It’ll be great to have people come out, have fun and look at some cool cars.
AM: While you’re in Salem, I know the Walk JDRF Charlotte RIC Walk to Cure Diabetes will be going on. Talk about how important it is for you to have Ryan’sMissioninvolved with that.
RR: The walks are great; they have all them all over the country. The walks are a great awareness tool, as well as a way to raise some funding to help find a cure. That’s always a fun experience. To have the Ryan’s Mission team involved with that, it’s going to be great. It’s really important to have Ryan’s Mission out there and show our support and how dedicated we are to JDRF.
AM: Looking at the schedule with you racing and the appearances, it seems it never stops. How do you keep it all balanced?
RR: That’s definitely tough – I’ve got my family, my girlfriend – I feel it’s such an opportunity and obligation to raise awareness and use the gift that God’s given me to do some good. I find time for it all, epically trying to work out and stay mentally right for the racecar. It’s just one of my challenges. I don’t have to wake up and go to an eight-to-five job. When I’m not traveling, I get to go to the gym in the morning and have a different lifestyle. I can deal with the bad – I’m not saying its bad at all, but it can be draining with all the travel, but it’s definitely so rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
AM: Mid May, there’s the JDRF Celebrity Golf Tournament. Talk about the event and what fans can expect.
RR: I got the call to do that and I was really excited. I had never picked up a golf club before so I was a little nervous. I actually found a new passion. I went down and got a lesson in golf and have been playing the past couple of weeks so hopefully I’ll be ready. It’s going to be a ton of fun playing on a beautiful golf course.
AM: Thoughts going into Salem…..
RR: I’m really excited. We had a couple weeks to prepare and I’ve been in the gym everyday getting myself ready. Everyone’s hungry – we’ve had a break these past five weeks. Everyone’s going to be hungry when we get out there to perform and no one wants to have this race and go there and struggle. I feel everybody at Venturini Motorsports, myself included, has worked hard over this break and we’re all going to go there with our guns loaded. If we can stay on all eight cylinders, we’re going to be tough to beat.
Some of the future events:
- The showcar will be on display at the Long Beach Grand Prix IndyCar event this weekend (April 14/15th)
- April 22nd: L.A. Connection Cool and Classis Car Show
- April 28th: JDRF Charlotte RIC Walk to Cure Diabetes
- April 29th: JDRF Promotion at Salem Speedway Fan Zone
- May 1st: JDRF Promotion at Birmingham Baron’s Baseball Game
- May 16th: JDRF Celebrity Golf Tournament
- June 14th: Ford-JDRF Promotion at Michgan Int’l Speedway
- June 16th: JDRF 24 Hour Hockey Game – Skating for a Cure
- July 21st: JDRF Music Concert Series Promotion – Chicago
- July 26th: JDRF Indianapolis Promotion
- August 4th: JDRF Promotion at Pocono Raceway Fan Zone
To learn more about Ryan Reed, check out http://www.ryanreedracing.com.
To learn more about JDRF, check out http://www.jdrf.org.
To learn more about Ryan’s Mission, check out http://www.ryansmission.org.