DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 -- With a full season in the Goody's Dash Series under her belt, Kelly "Girl" Sutton, the first person with multiple sclerosis (MS) known to race in any NASCAR series, is driving to become another first -- the first...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 -- With a full season in the Goody's Dash Series under her belt, Kelly "Girl" Sutton, the first person with multiple sclerosis (MS) known to race in any NASCAR series, is driving to become another first -- the first woman to win the pole at Daytona.
Sutton can take confidence from her performance last year at Daytona when she turned a 34th starting position into an 11th place finish.
"For me, racing is all about the challenge," says Sutton. "It's about doing things no one else has done. It's about doing things I once thought were impossible."
The 2003 season will mark Sutton's fourth consecutive trip to Daytona International Speedway and her fourth season on the NASCAR circuit. The Daytona USA 150 on February 9 will kickoff Sutton's run at the championship for 2003.
Team COPAXONE(R) (glatiramer acetate injection) made some exciting changes in the off-season, bringing in a new pit crew and relocating operations to Sutton's hometown of Crownsville, Md.
"I think we're in a great position for the upcoming season," says Sutton. "I learned so much as a rookie, and I feel ready to make some big moves on the track."
Long Road to the Track
Sutton, a third generation driver, began racing motorcycles when she was just 10 years old. At age of 12, she graduated to go-carts. By the time she was 15, Sutton was making her mark in local racing -- until overwhelming fatigue and a tingling sensation on her right side began sidelining her on a regular basis. At 16, Sutton was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
"I was devastated," said Sutton. "I was afraid I would have to give up the things that I loved."
Although she did spend time in a wheelchair, Sutton was determined to learn how to manage her disease. Through a disciplined exercise regime, a conscientious diet, and a daily injection of drug therapy, she found herself back in the driver's seat.
It was a long road, but in 2002, Sutton raced her first full season in the Goody's Dash Series, finishing third in rookie points and 12th overall -- beating out 75 other drivers.
Reaching out to Fans
Sutton's determination resonates with fans. At the 2002 Goody's Dash Series banquet, she was named the most popular driver in the series.
"Everybody has mountains to climb," says the 31-year old mother of two. "Mine is MS. I think that because I've battled it so publicly, people can see some of their own stories in mine."
During breaks from the racing action, Sutton travels around the country sharing the story of her personal battle with the MS community, inspiring audiences, and being inspired by them.
"Interacting with other people with MS reminds me that this disease is just something that we have to deal with. It is not who we are," she says. "I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a racecar driver. Those are the things that define me -- not MS."
Leaning on Science
Attitude, exercise, and diet are all important to managing MS, but in recent years, another option has emerged. Drug therapy.
Neurologists have identified drugs capable of modifying the immune processes thought to be responsible for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The FDA has approved drugs, such as COPAXONE(R) (glatiramer acetate injection) that Sutton takes. COPAXONE(R) is indicated for the reduction of the frequency of relapses in relapsing-remitting MS.
The most common side effects of COPAXONE(R) are redness, pain, swelling, itching, or a lump at the site of injection, flushing, chest pain, weakness, infection, pain, nausea, joint pain, anxiety, and muscle stiffness. These reactions are usually mild and seldom require professional treatment. Patients should tell their doctor about any side effects.
Some patients report a short-term reaction right after injecting COPAXONE(R). This reaction can involve flushing (feeling of warmth and/or redness), chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. These symptoms generally appear within minutes of an injection, last about 15 minutes, and go away by themselves without further problems.
Teva Neuroscience, Inc. markets COPAXONE(R). COPAXONE(R) is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Teva Neuroscience, Inc. is a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
For more information on Kelly Sutton and her racing career, visit her Web site at http://www.kellygirlsutton.com/ .
Call 1-800-887-8100 or log onto http://www.copaxone.com/ for more information about COPAXONE(R), Team COPAXONE(R), or multiple sclerosis.
See additional important information at www.copaxone.com/pi/index.html or call 1-800-887-8100 for electronic releases. For hardcopy releases, please see enclosed full prescribing information.