Trevor Bayne, NASCAR Driver, Refuses To Let MS Diagnosis Keep Him Off The Track

Trevor Bayne
Trevor Bayne, the NASCAR driver, has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and he says it will not affect his status in upcoming races. Reuters

Trevor Bayne, the youngest NASCAR driver to win the Dayton 500, at 20 years old, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The 22-year-old Tennessee native announced on Tuesday that his condition would not affect his racing in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series finales this weekend or any other upcoming race.  

"I've never been more driven to compete," Bayne said in a statement. "My goals are the same as they've been since I started racing. I want to compete at the highest level and I want to win races and championships. I am in the best shape I've ever been in and I feel good."

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is an incurable autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms can vary and depend on how much of the central nervous system has been affected. Deterioration of the nerves can lead to partial paralysis and an inability to speak or walk.

MS currently affects over 2.3 million people around the world and could be caused by a range of different factors including gender, genetics, age, geography, and ethnicity. Although it is not directly inherited, people with a close relative who has been diagnosed with MS are at a one in 40 risk of developing the disease themselves.

"There are currently no symptoms and I'm committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible," Bayne added. "As for now, I want to close out the season strong this weekend at Homestead and then shift my focus on getting ready to compete for the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) Championship in 2014."

Bayne — whose younger sister, Sarah, is also battling MS — was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in 2011 after he experienced numbness in his arm during a race. With symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and blurred vision, he was treated for what doctors called an “inflammatory condition,” according to the Associated Press. One of the youngest faces in NASCAR, he expects to complete every race for Roush-Fenway Racing in next season’s Nationwide Series.

"We are 100 percent supportive of Trevor and his ability to compete in a race car," Roush-Fenway team owner Jack Roush said in the statement. "I have full confidence in Trevor and his partners have all expressed that same confidence and support. As with all of our drivers, we look forward to standing behind Trevor and providing him with all of the tools he needs as he continues to develop in his young career."

Bayne isn’t the only professional athlete who has decided to put his MS diagnosis behind him in pursuit of a successful season. Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding decided MS would not end his NHL career when he was diagnosed in Sept. 2013. "I had a couple days where I felt bad for myself, but no more," Harding told the Star Tribune"There's things in life that happen. Sometimes you can't explain it. You deal with it."

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