(Written by Steve Michaels)
My name is Steve Michaels. At the age of five I was diagnosed with Polyglandular Failure Syndrome (a mouth full!). This is a disease that affects a person’s immune system. This disease causes the body to start “attacking itself” – and it’s what happened to me. The disease attacked my pancreas and essentially “killed it off” – and my body no longer produced insulin. I became a “full-blown” diabetic.
I am happy to report that I am now 27 years old – long past the age of 16; the age the doctors told my parents I would not live beyond (showed them!) But I am very grateful to these great doctors! They have taken such good care of me – and also my family.
Racing is part of my life!
At the age of 10, my doctors approached my parents asking if they had ever considered the Make-A-Wish Foundation. With all the hospital stays and tests I had been put through, the doctors thought it might be a little reprieve for me. This is when I received my first race car, a junior dragster.
The National Hot Rod Association had just started a new class called the junior dragster league and I was one of the first pioneers (if you will) in this class in Minnesota. What a thrill for me!! My brother and I raced these cars until we were both 16 years old – traveling all over with our parents and family. Winning a divisional event in Kansas and multiple track championships at Brainerd International Raceway were absolutely the best years of my life.
I then stepped up and raced my father’s 1969 Chevelle at the local drag strip (a car he had parked when we got the Junior cars – just so he could focus on “us boys”). I was also a multiple time track champion with this car! My father’s dream was to always own a car that we could race at a national level – and, if you will, race with the “Big Boys”.
In 2007 Michaels Family Racing purchased a super comp dragster – time to roll with the Big Boys!! Powered by a Chevy 502, this car needs a licensed driver and will run in the mid- to low-eight second range in a quarter mile. I licensed in the car right away — and then we found “the problems” that all new cars have. These “little gremlins did their thing” and boy did they stump us for the first year! Now we are racing with the big boys, attending national and divisional events and plan on doing many more in the years to come.
Life for the Michaels’ remains busy. But most of all, we enjoy it a lot! I tell my story because my family encouraged me to succeed. In turn, my message to other youngsters with diabetes is to stay focused and pursue something that you will enjoy and do well at.
Nothing about “success comes easily”, but if you stick to it, manage your diabetes, and build an attitude that “nothing has to limit what you do”, you will do well!