Seven-year-old Katie Hahn of Omaha, Neb. used every crayon in the box when she created her entry for the “JDRF Race Car Design Contest,” hosted by the Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). She named it “Driving Our Way to a Cure.”
The tie-dyed pattern can’t be missed. It’ll be everywhere the Wood Brothers Racing team goes during the Pure Michigan 400 this weekend, at Michigan International Speedway.
On their uniforms. On the pit lane wall. Katie and her family will wear matching shirts. Even Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 21 Ford Fusion, will be in on the fun.
Katie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of five. She and her family raised $4,210 online by asking their friends and family to cast their vote for her design by making a donation to JDRF. Overall, more than $43,000 was raised in the contest this year. In four years, the partnership has resulted in more than $240,000 in donations to support JDRF’s goal: To cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.
Bayne and representatives from FCSD, Ford and JDRF got their first glimpse of the “Driving Our Way to a Cure” No. 21 Ford Fusion at the official unveiling at Ford World Headquarters, where Mark Fields, Executive Vice President, Ford Motor Company; President, The Americas welcomed the family and thanked them for their participation with host Brett Wheatley, Director, Marketing, FCSD.
“On behalf of JDRF, we congratulate Katie Hahn for creating such a unique design and for raising the critically needed funds for type 1 diabetes research,” said Scott McCormick, JDRF International Board Member and Interim Chief Marketing Officer. “This colorful car is sure to stand out on the racetrack, not only raising awareness for type 1 diabetes, but also showcasing the important partnership between JDRF and Ford.”
McCormick attended the unveiling of the racecar and accepted the check on behalf of JDRF.
“We are happy to announce another successful fundraising effort by JDRF and Ford Customer Service Division,” said Brett Wheatley, Director, Marketing, FCSD. “We’re having fun with this year’s design. We’re proud to say we once again received many strong entries from young artists from chapters across the country and we’re looking forward to bringing Katie and her family out to the track this weekend.”
Len and Eddie Wood, team owners of the No. 21 entry, are excited for the opportunity to revisit the past through the 1960s-esque tie-dye paint scheme.
“It’s a really cool thing, kind of a throwback to when I was younger,” Eddie Wood said. “I remember the brightness of the colors and that particular time in history. I was just in my late teens, early 20s (when tie-dye took off the first time) and this car takes me back to a good time.”
Len Wood looks forward to the first time 21-year-old Bayne steps out of the No. 21 hauler for the first time in a rainbow explosion of colors.
“It should be a surprise for him,” Len Wood said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a driver in a tie-dye suit. The first time he walks out of that hauler and everybody sees him, it’ll be interesting, but it’s all for a good cause.
“I hope the crew shirts look good. Maybe I should’ve worked on this and not got my hair cut for the last few months.”
Just as many sports have a regular season and a playoff season, the JDRF Race Car Design Contest has a voting phase and a judging phase. Representatives from FCSD, JDRF and Len and Eddie Wood choose a winner among the top five fundraising entries.
“The paint schemes were very good this year,” Len Wood said. “It was hard to pick, but we wanted something different. I think with the tie-dye paint scheme; it’s different all right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a race car painted like it.”
Ford Motor Company is JDRF’s only global partner and no company has raised more to fund research for JDRF than Ford. Ford has raised more than $35 million for JDRF since 1998.
“The JDRF Race Car Design Contest is really special for us in that it’s special to Ford Motor Company,” Eddie Wood said. “We have a 61-year-old relationship with Ford. Anything they’re involved in really good for us to be involved in too, because I feel like we’re one big family. JDRF is kind of a family thing too, with it touching so many kids. It’s a really special opportunity and an honor to be involved in it.”
The employee-driven group, the Ford Global Walk Team, was established in 1998, with Edsel B. Ford II as the Corporate Team Chair. Mr. Ford continues to lead the effort in honor of his son, Albert, who has been living with type 1 diabetes for 13 years.