Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2016
The National Fibromyalgia Association is proud to announce TeamAWARE – Racing in Support of People with Pain for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2016. This collaboration offers a unique opportunity to bring help and inspiration to millions of people affected by chronic pain through our new spokesperson Jenna Grillo and our partnership with the Community Pain Center.
Jenna is a 19 year old young woman who has had fibromyalgia most of her life. She recently received her SCCA Pro Racing License and has started to compete in the racing circuit with the hope of racing in the Indy 500 sometime in the next 3-4 years. Jenna wants to use her racing career as a platform to bring awareness to FM and to share with the pain community the value of following your dreams. She realizes the severity of pain varies greatly in everyone, and she encourages people with FM to find ways to better self-manage their pain, surround themselves with people who care and are willing to help them on their journey to overcome or reduce their pain, and to find a purpose that is bigger than their pain.
Jenna is focusing on helping people to know that they can feel better, and encourages everyone to take each day and focuses on doing their best on that specific day.
Jenna Grillo and TeamAWARE will be racing for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2016, in support of those in chronic pain, at Watkins Glen International Raceway on May 14th and 15th, 2016. We hope you will join us in welcoming Jenna to the NFA.
In the New York area? Come join in the fun!
Join us May 13th, 14th, and 15th 2016 at Watkins Glen International Race Way. Which is located at: 2790 County Route 16 Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
Saturday and Sunday races begin at 1:00 pm and run throughout the afternoon. Onsite camping is available. Click here for more information Tickets available at the gate for $30 for the whole weekend, or $25 for Saturday only.
Photo opportunities available in the K-hill Motor Sports paddock throughout the weekend.
All about the cars!
Jenna will be racing in the F2000 Championship Series which is an SCCA Pro Racing Series. The cars are often called open wheel or formula cars. The F2000 car is powered by a 2 liter, 4 cylinder engine that produces about 150 horsepower. It has a 4 speed manual transmission and a top speed of about 140 miles per hour. Due to the downforce created by the front and rear wings, these cars exceed 2g’s of lateral force in the corners and can brake much faster than other types of cars. A great deal of physical endurance and mental focus is required to drive these cars for the 30 minute races.
Behind the Race with Jenna Grillo.
1. How do you prepare for a race when you have Fibromyalgia?
There is a lot that goes into preparation for my races. Like most drivers I study the track a lot so I know every turn before I actually get on the track. Although with having fibromyalgia I have to make sure that I get plenty of rest, and keep up my workout regimen so that my body is ready for the strenuous work that I am about to endure during the race weekend.
2. We understand you will shift your car over 500 times during a race, how is that possible with FM?
Racing cars is obviously an extremely physically demanding activity. Fibromyalgia definitely makes this harder. From the time I get in the car to the time I get out my pain is the last thing on my mind. This is one of the reasons that I love this sport! Between races is the time that I really start noticing the pain, so I have to fight that. My mom is amazing, she will actually massage my muscles between races, so that absolutely helps!
3. We heard they make a custom seat just for you. How does that help make the ride more comfortable?
The custom seat absolutely helps make the car a lot more comfortable. When I was in go karts they didn’t make custom seats, which is extremely unfortunate for females, let alone for females who are in constant pain. Now my car is so comfortable that I even want to take a nap in it, which is actually pretty tempting some days at the track!
4. People with FM have to learn how to compartmentalize their thoughts – so they aren’t always focusing on their pain – has this helped you to focus just on racing, putting your pain aside during the race?
One of the hardest things about fibromyalgia for me is trying to keep my mind off of the pain. This is one of the reasons that racing has become such a big part of my life. Racing makes me able to constantly think about something other than the pain I am in. If I am in a race and thinking about anything besides the corner that I am driving through things can go very bad very quickly.
5. Has your FM ever made it impossible for you to race?
There are many times throughout my racing career that I have thought that there was absolutely no way that I would be able to get through the race. There have been times back in my karting days that I honestly thought about packing the trailer up and going home because I was hurting so much. Luckily my parents are so extremely supportive that they assure me that I CAN do it. I remember there was a national go kart race where I didn’t think that I could race because of the pain, I decided to go out and do as many laps as I could. I ended up going out and finishing the entire race, and finishing really well. I got the checkered flag and tears started streaming down my race in my helmet because I was so proud of myself for fighting through the pain and finishing that race.
6. How do you feel about becoming a spokesperson for the NFA & CPC? What message do you want people in pain to know?
I am so honored to be a spokesperson for the NFA as well as the CPC. Lynne Matallana is such a huge inspiration to me. She has done so much building these two amazing organizations I am so excited to be working alongside her! My main goal is to bring more awareness to Fibromyalgia and chronic pain. I also hope to show people that despite chronic pain, you can still live an amazing and happy life!
7. Besides Racing a Formula 2000 car – what other interest and activities do you enjoy?
Racing is my passion in life! I also have some other things that help keep my mind off of my pain when I’m not at the track. I’m by no means Pablo Picasso, but I absolutely love making art. I really love painting, I can sit down and paint for hours, although I have to take breaks (even race car drivers get sore from sitting in the same position for too long). It’s a really great way to keep my mind off of my pain. I absolutely love working out as well, I use that as a way to clear my mind, whether it’s hitting the gym or lifting weights or walking through the parks in Indianapolis. I love being around nature so I try to be outside as much as possible. I think that everyone should find a hobby that they can use to distract themselves when they’re flared up, it’s definitely a huge part of my life.
8. How do you feel knowing that there are many people with FM & Chronic Pain that have worked hard to get better but still are unable to do the things they use to do?
It really does make me sad knowing that so many people’s lives are so greatly impacted by their chronic pain. This is one reason why I am so happy to be teaming up with the NFA and CPC. I was diagnosed when I was only 9 years old. Ten years later, I am just starting to feel like I am getting my pain to a manageable level. I want people to know that it really is hard to deal with chronic pain, but that it is possible to live a happy life. I absolutely recommend checking out the CPC’s website they have wonderful resources to help manage chronic pain.
9. What has it been like having a mother who has FM? How does she feel about your racing career?
My mom has been absolutely amazing from the time I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She has been my role model, she has fibromyalgia, auto immune problems, and has had multiple back surgeries, so she has definitely been my biggest support system. She is always doing whatever she can do to help alleviate my pain, whether it’s bringing me to get massages, having me try acupuncture, pretty much shoving supplements down my throat at times. All joking aside, I would not be nearly as strong today if it weren’t for her. She has been so supportive through my entire racing career. She’s definitely my biggest cheerleader! She absolutely loves helping me improve my racing lines. She’s always waiting with my race gear when it comes time to get ready for the races. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my parents.
NFA’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, 2016:
When was the last time you had a team to cheer for?
Thanks to the Sponsors of TeamAWARE
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