Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reflections on my 5-year dia-versary

5 years. 1827 days. And yet it seems like yesterday.

I walked into the doctor's office to get an irritating rash fixed. I walked out with diabetes, a new perspective on life and, I realize now, a whole new community of friends. Getting diagnosed was one of the hardest days of my life so far. Now, with 5 years of distance, I think it was one of the most promising days of my life.

Racing before I was diagnosed was a reasonably selfish endeavor. I was racing for me, my results, my wins, my future. My diagnosis changed that. I know that I am racing for a whole community of people with diabetes, all over the world. Being out on track competing is a success unto itself. All of a sudden, my racing has a bigger purpose than just me. And that means a lot. Don't get me wrong; I love racing and there is no place I'd rather be than in the car. But now when I strap in, it means more.

The whole diabetes community has always overwhelmed me with their support, their insight, their help and their friendship. The very first blog post I wrote on here was about how easy it was to feel alone with diabetes. And all it takes is one random encounter and you can understand that you aren't alone. In fact you are part of something that is so great, you very quickly forget about feeling sorry for yourself! Thank you to everyone in that community for all you have done for me in the last 5 years.

It has not all been perfect. In the last couple of years, I have lost 2 friends. Both were shocking in their suddenness. And both were stark reminders to live each day to the fullest, love what you do, make the most of the opportunities you have, and don't sweat the small stuff.

In the past 5 years, I have been also been fortunate enough to gain a great partner in Novo Nordisk. I believe in them as much as they believe in me. Along with them and with the help of a great race team, Chip Ganassi Racing, I have been able to not only race but make history. As a competitor I love being first. But being first to do something, like finish the Indianapolis 500 with diabetes? That was more fulfilling than I ever expected. My mom has always said that time is measured in events. A lot has happened in the last 5 years. And it feels like it has flown by faster than 225 mph. I can't wait to see what the next 5 years has in store for me!

First race with diabetes, 2008
First IndyCar podium, 2012


  1. I witnessed your competitive spirit and drive when you were enrolled in Honors English as well as on the tennis court as part of a very successful program. Your will to meet and overcome the obstacles that life presents has been evidenced in many aspects of your life-whether in the classroom, athletics, paying your dues on the racetrack, or celebrating life with diabetes. It is the journey that molds us and I am very proud of your accomplishments and look forward to your bright future and all that it holds in store. Once a Spartan-Always a Spartan. .. Coach W.

  2. Hey Charlie, you are such an inspiration to me as a fellow type 1 diabetic and race driver. Living with diabetes for just over 5 years now and being very active in the diabetes community myself, I have also found that there are so many people that live life to the fullest with this disease and your story really inspires me to pursue my goals on and off the track, and I hope to be a future indycar driver with type 1 diabetes as well. Thank you for all that you do, congrats and good luck!