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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Quest for cure drives boy with diabetes

Eleven-year-old’s race car design wins ‘Everyday Heroes’ prize

Carson Magee, 11, stands in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone Park next to his winning race car design for the “Our Everyday Heroes” contest. His design pays homage to firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police and the U.S. armed services. (Kathy Plonka)

When Coeur d’Alene resident Carson Magee was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 7, he thought he would be cured with a few shots at the hospital.

But when he realized how the disease would affect his life, he made it his mission to find a cure. At only 11 years old, he has now become one of the nation’s top youth activists for type 1 diabetes awareness.

“Diabetes never really gives you a break,” Magee said.

His work to bring more awareness to the form of the disease that used to be called juvenile diabetes has reached national recognition.

On July 7, he won the “Our Everyday Heroes” race car design contest for JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The contest, which asked kids with type 1 diabetes around the country to create a design for a race car, was co-sponsored with Ford, Motorcraft and Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers. People voted by giving donations, and JDRF and Ford picked a winner out of the top 10 designs.

As a prize for winning the contest, Magee and his family were flown to Denver to see how his design looked on the race cars, and he was interviewed by ESPN.

“Not only is he a talented artist, as evidenced by his race car design, but he is one of the nation’s foremost youth activists in support of JDRF and bringing awareness to the effort to create a world without T1D,” said Mary Lou Quesnell, director of marketing for the Ford Customer Service Division.

Carson’s design honors firefighters, emergency medical technicians and the armed services. He said he knows a firefighter and an EMT who both have diabetes, and he created the design with them in mind.

His design raised $3,735 for JDRF, part of over $53,000 raised in this year’s contest. JDRF has raised more than $400,000 over the course of the race car design contest’s seven-year history.

“He’s very serious about the work he does, and I think he’s realized that he has a voice and an audience now,” said his mother, Fondra Magee.

From 2001-09, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes in people under the age of 20 rose by 23 percent, according to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

The race car design contest is just one way Carson Magee has advocated for diabetes research over the past few years.

He also was a delegate to the 2013 JDRF Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C., and has spoken publicly about the disease. He’s met U.S. Sen. James Risch and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho as well as Gov. Butch Otter.

But all of his accomplishments have not sidetracked him from advocating for a cure. “I think he lays awake at night and dreams up stuff,” his mother said.

He plans on working with JDRF to unicycle from town to town around the Inland Northwest to get the word out about type 1 diabetes.

He also is looking to start a club consisting of friends who also have diabetes around the area.

“It’s kind of cool when a young kid has a passion for something and they see that in him,” Fondra Magee said. “Most people don’t do that.”

Said her son, “Until there’s a cure I’m going to keep doing it. I really think there’s going to be a cure someday.”