DEARBORN, Mich., July 3, 2012—Libby Ledford is her parents’ hero.
The 11-year-old carries an adult’s load of responsibilities with an extraordinary dedication. Hers isn’t the face of a victim. Libby walks with courage.
The 5-foot-4, four-sport athlete was born into a drag racing family. In 2012, she won a track championship behind the wheel of the junior dragster her father Jeff built for her at their family-owned track – not long after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Her career-best E.T. is 8.90 seconds, the quickest a driver in her age group can go.
Libby’s mother Denise describes her daughter as a strong girl with good character. Her fifth-grade teacher called Libby a leader who “shows others what exemplary character looks like.”
She accepted that award not long before receiving another; Libby won the experience of a lifetime in the fifth-annual “Our Everyday Heroes” Race Car Design Contest, hosted by Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD), its brands Motorcraft and Quick Lane, and JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the global leader in T1D research.
Children with T1D from around the nation submitted their patriotic race car designs in the hopes they would see their artwork on the NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car driven by professional Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III. Libby’s design was chosen from the top 10 finalists.
“There’s so much to be pleased with about the results of this year’s contest,” said Mary Lou Quesnell, Director of Marketing, FCSD. “Libby’s design is fantastic and really captures what we hoped it would – that pride we have in our everyday heroes, from members of the military to fire and police personnel to those who manage their T1D every day. We’re excited to welcome the Ledford family to our team.”
In five years, the race car design contest has raised approximately $275,000.
Libby and her mother will watch her car compete in the NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio July 6-8, 2012, as guests of Tasca and Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing, along with her father and brother Lane, who are also champion drag racers.
“I was really excited and very happy,” said Libby, who is excited to meet racers she admires.
“I was in shock (when we found out she won),” Denise said. “But so happy and so excited. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. She’s such a great role model. I think she’ll be a great representative for JDRF.”
“All of us at JDRF are proud of Libby, not just for creating this winning race car design, but also for following her passion of racing while managing a very difficult disease,” said Mania Boyder, JDRF’s executive vice president, development. “I am sure Libby is excited by the idea that her passion is helping to fund another area of great importance to her: research to cure, treat, and prevent type 1 diabetes.”
In T1D, the body’s pancreas stops producing enough insulin, a hormone that is needed to turn food into energy. People with T1D must currently monitor their blood sugar levels and administer insulin via shots or an insulin pump, multiple times every day. Even vigilant management does not ward against T1D complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, and amputation. JDRF is the largest charitable funder of research toward preventing, better treating, and curing T1D and its complications.
Ford Motor Company is the largest global sponsor of JDRF, with almost $40 million raised through various efforts since 1998. This year’s race car design contest hosted by FCSD raised $24,819. Every child who entered raised money for JDRF by asking their friends and family to “vote” through donations toward research that will hopefully unearth a cure for T1D. Libby raised $1,915 for the cause.
“She has done remarkably well (with T1D),” Denise said. “She’s just a trooper with it. She gets up, checks her blood, brushes her teeth and brushes her hair. It’s just part of her routine.”
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JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is now the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. The goal of JDRF research is to improve the lives of all people affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners who share this goal.
Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.6 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped to significantly advance the care of people with this disease, and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of T1D. JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education. For more information, visit www.jdrf.org.