Community//

Sports Stars Making a Social Impact: How IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball is helping to raise awareness about the importance of diabetes management

I would like if all health care professionals in the diabetes world saw themselves more as team members with their patients. I have been blessed to have a strong, communicative and thoughtful diabetes management team in my life and it has made a big difference. Communication and education are key. It’s important patients talk with […]


I would like if all health care professionals in the diabetes world saw themselves more as team members with their patients. I have been blessed to have a strong, communicative and thoughtful diabetes management team in my life and it has made a big difference. Communication and education are key. It’s important patients talk with their doctors and doctors talk with their patients.


As part of my series about sports stars making a social impact, I had the pleasure to interview IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball. Charlie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 22, is the first licensed driver with diabetes in IndyCar and was the first licensed driver with diabetes to win an IndyCar race. He doesn’t let his diabetes prevent him from making history. Charlie partners with Novo Nordisk on Race With Insulin®, an educational program that aims to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of diabetes management. Charlie meets with thousands of people with diabetes each year to share his story and inspire them to not let their disease get in the way of pursuing their dreams. Charlie received the Jefferson Award for Public Service for his work in the diabetes community.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As the son of a motorsports engineer, I grew up watching racing, was captivated by it on TV and fell in love with it when I got behind the wheel. I started racing go karts at age 9 as a way to spend some time with my Dad on the weekends, and received a ride in a Formula Ford for my 16th birthday and have never looked back since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began racing?

Some of my favorite, and life-changing memories — come from meeting people who I have met through diabetes. I have developed a long friendship with Billie Jean King that originated through a diabetes connection and we stay in touch mostly through texts. It has been a wonderful journey to meet people who have changed the landscape of society through sports and so often diabetes is what connects us.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The race team did a great job on my very first IndyCar Pit stop in St. Petersburg in 2011, but I made a rookie mistake that I will always remember. I underestimated the effect of cold tires coming out of pit lane on that very first stop and ended up brushing the wall and was quickly out of the race. That day, racing legend and teammate Dario Franchitti told me he had made the same mistake and there was always plenty to learn and I should never stop learning.

Can you describe how you are making a significant social impact?

It’s been very rewarding for me to be part of Novo Nordisk’s Race with Insulin program. Being in the public eye provides me the opportunity to tell — and show — that you can successfully manage your diabetes and live a full and rewarding life. And it’s not just about my story. For me it is also so important to connect with those living with diabetes one relationship at a time so that each person has a chance to share their story with me. Each one of us has a story to tell and those stories are important. Diabetes chose us and I have always felt we are the “Cool Kids Club” and it’s a pretty cool club to be part of.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who impacted you in this cause?

My endocrinologist, Dr Anne Peters has educated and empowered me through her experience. Since very early in my diabetes journey, she has been integral to my health care management and she encourages me to share my story with others. She has shown me the importance of telling my story and the value in hearing the story of others.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership means leading by example — defining your actions and living your life in a way that others will want to follow. It is important to me to be a leader on the racetrack, in the diabetes community and at home, being the best husband and father I can be.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like if all health care professionals in the diabetes world saw themselves more as team members with their patients. I have been blessed to have a strong, communicative and thoughtful diabetes management team in my life and it has made a big difference. Communication and education are key. It’s important patients talk with their doctors and doctors talk with their patients.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My parents taught me “If you love what you do you, will never work a day in your life.” There are lots of ways to earn a living, but there are fewer ways to be happy. Happiness equals success in business and in life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

There are a lot of people who fit in this grouping, and most of them are agents of change. My list would include President Obama, Mark Cuban, Condoleezza Rice and Madeline Albright

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me at @RacewithInsulin on Twitter and on Instagram @charliekimball.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

How We Shame Patients In Health Care

by Riva Greenberg
Well-Being//

The Epidemic That’s An Elephant In The Room

by Dr. Desmond Schatz

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.