Not every kid gets to watch something she imagined on paper zoom by on a professional racetrack. But 2012 Our Everyday Heroes contest winner Libby Ledford of Stanton, MI, saw her race car design roar to life last summer.
From now until March 7, children living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) between the ages of 5 and 18 can submit their JDRF-themed race car designs for a chance to win this year’s Our Everyday Heroes Race Car Design Contest, hosted by Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD). The lucky winner will receive the trip of a lifetime to the Route 66 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals in Joliet, IL, to see his or her design painted on the Funny Car driven by Bob Tasca III. Mr. Tasca will drive the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car at speeds greater than 300 miles per hour during the event June 28 to 30, 2013.
Libby encourages other kids living with T1D to enter the contest, saying, “It’s not something you can do every day, and you don’t know how fun it’s going to be until it happens to you.” Diagnosed with T1D at age eight, Libby comes from a family that “eats, sleeps, and breathes” auto racing. She is an avid drag racer, as are her father, Jeff, and brother, Lane. When the Ledfords learned about the fifth annual FCSD Race Car Design Contest for JDRF, then 11-year-old Libby set to work putting designs on paper. Her submission was a colorful combination of her best ideas.
The 2012 contest invited kids living with T1D to submit a design for the chance to see their artwork on the NHRA Funny Car, driven by Bob Tasca III for the July race in Norwalk, OH. Friends and family “voted” online by making donations for their favorite entry. The 2012 contest raised $24,819 for JDRF. Libby’s drawing earned $1,915 and an invitation to attend the race weekend.
Libby’s mother, Denise Ledford, says her daughter’s win “felt like it was meant to be.” For Libby, the most exciting moment came when the Tasca team pulled back the cover from the car and revealed her design. “It was amazing how they put exactly what I drew on the car,” Libby says.
The Norwalk race may be over, but the pace of Libby’s life as a sixth grader hasn’t slowed. In addition to drag racing on most summer weekends, Libby plays softball, volleyball, and basketball. Denise says Libby has never let T1D hold her back. “If anything, she is more disciplined and has more energy than any kid I know.”
The Ledfords view the friendships they developed with the team of FCSD, JDRF, and Bob Tasca III as lifelong connections and keep in touch with everyone. Ford Motor Company is JDRF’s largest global partner. Last year, Ford contributed more than $3 million to JDRF. The Race Car Design Contest is just one of the many unique programs that Ford conducts to help fund JDRF’s T1D research and get others involved with the JDRF community.
For official contest rules, timeline, and a coloring template, please visit jdrf.org/ford.