TORONTO – It’s perhaps more appropriate than anywhere on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule that Charlie Kimball is taking his inspirational message as a successful Indy car driver living with Type 1 diabetes to the Honda Indy Toronto.
It was in Canada in 1921 that Charles Best and Frederick Banting became the first researchers to produce an extract of insulin, the hormone that has helped millions around the world lead inspirational, everyday lives of their own.
For the second straight year, Novo Nordisk, the long-time supporter of Kimball’s racing, is partnering with Diabetes Canada to sponsor Kimball’s No. 23 Chevrolet for the race weekend at Exhibition Place. The car features a special blue and white paint scheme to help spread Kimball and Novo Nordisk’s message.
“What works best about this partnership with Charlie Kimball is to inspire people that are living with diabetes,” said Brian Hilberdink, president of Novo Nordisk Canada. “What I love about it is living with diabetes literally doesn’t slow Charlie down. That is something that Diabetes Canada and Novo Nordisk have leveraged to inspire other people living with diabetes.”
Kimball has used his platform as an INDYCAR driver to speak to thousands of diabetics of all ages, serving himself up as an example of a diabetic continuing to chase his dreams. With proper treatment and monitoring, those with diabetes can lead a normal life and pursue their passions.
“Partnering with Novo Nordisk and Diabetes Canada, it’s a shared goal for all three of us,” Kimball said. “To improve the lives of people living with diabetes by inspiring Canadians to believe that anything is possible.
“Diabetes doesn’t have to slow you down. You can still pursue your dreams. For me, it’s driving an Indy car. For others, it’s climbing mountains or playing football or ice hockey or whatever it is.”
Hilberdink has seen the power of Kimball’s message first hand, especially when the Carlin driver talks with children who have recently learned they are diabetic. He’s seen Kimball convince youngsters they can still play little league baseball, youth hockey or whatever they desire to do.
“Charlie says, ‘Hey, I can drive a race car at over 200 mph. I’m pretty sure you can field a ground ball or get back on your skates and play hockey,’” Hilberdink said. “It’s that type of inspiration.”
As part of the Toronto partnership, Novo Nordisk Canada and Diabetes Canada conducted a contest on the popular Canadian morning show “Breakfast Television” on City TV, seeking nominees who have overcome obstacles – not just diabetics – to achieve a life goal. The winner will receive VIP treatment at the Honda Indy Toronto this weekend that includes a chance to meet Kimball.
Hilberdink said he’s been pleased with the partnership and exposure received by working with Diabetes Canada, which will also bring children from its camps to meet Kimball at the track.
“Because we just have the one race in Canada, I thought there would be more mileage – pun intended – being able to leverage our partnership with Diabetes Canada and really leverage the story of Charlie Kimball,” Hilberdink said. “Our business model at Novo Nordisk is really simple. If we put the patient in the center and do what’s best for the patient, we believe that the business will ultimately follow.
“Our biggest competition, quite frankly, isn’t other manufacturers that make diabetes-related products. It’s the general apathy around the treatment of diabetes and the general perception that diabetes is a real limiting factor in someone’s life. Charlie Kimball is such a wonderful spokesperson and is truly a perfect concept that that is not the case.”
Kimball, the eighth-year Verizon IndyCar Series driver who chose the No. 23 for his car this season because Novo Nordisk was founded in 1923, likes the striking look of the livery for the weekend.
“Hopefully it’s just as quick as it looks good,” the 2013 Mid-Ohio race winner said. “Toronto is where I got my first Indy car podium (in 2012), so I know I can race there and race well there.”