This June, our partners CARSTAR and Axalta Racing hosted the #AcceleratetheCure contest to help raise awareness for cystic fibrosis! Entrants had to submit a drawing for a chance to have it featured on racing star Alex Bowman’s helmet, and a trip to see him in action at Watkins Glen! Congratulations to Canadian CF champion, Mikayla Bianchin, who has won this contest. She shares about her journey to the NASCAR race and her meeting with Alex Bowman below.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Mikayla Bianchin, I am from Hamilton, Ontario and currently an Illustration student attending Sheridan College. I am 18 years old and living with Cystic Fibrosis alongside my younger sister Madison who also has CF. Raising awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis research is prime in my everyday life. I hope for a cure one day and I want to do everything necessary to ensure CF awareness is headed in the right direction for the CF community and families. If my art or my speaking is able to do any part in that then I am proud and happy.
Could you explain your helmet design?
For the helmet design, I wanted to incorporate key images often associated with Cystic Fibrosis without actually writing the words “Cystic Fibrosis” straight on the helmet. I was hoping for the paint scheme to speak for itself in a positive light to reflect the battles and healthier near futures that all of us CF patients hope for. In Canada, we mainly associate blue as a CF colour so I made that the dominant colour, conveniently the NASCAR driver Alex Bowman, wears blue a lot. I do a lot of CF representation in art with roses. I knew I wanted those to be a key feature on the sides, relating back to the story of a young boy pronouncing “Cystic Fibrosis” as “65 Roses”. It is a way of viewing struggles and pain in a different light, a way of growth and beauty. Cystic Fibrosis can influence outlooks on life dramatically. The DNA I thought looked intense and I could work it in to be pretty stylized for a driver’s helmet. With CF being genetic, I imagined that to be a highly recognized aspect into being part of the research for finding a cure. Of course I had to include lungs being the main organ CF affects. I’m pretty intrigued with medical illustrations as it is, however, I am no expert, so an artistic and glowy take on them was what I stuck with. I was inspired by reading about a blue aura light that represents clarity and feelings of calmness after experiencing trauma. I felt a connection with that and living with Cystic Fibrosis versus what a cure might feel like. The final design I was extremely proud of and glad all the parts worked together simultaneously. I hope people in the CF community enjoyed it and caught it in action on Alex Bowman at the race. Fingers crossed CF is more well-known, at least by NASCAR fans!
How was your journey to the NASCAR Cup Series?
My journey to the NASCAR Cup Series was definitely a once in a lifetime experience! It was all made possible for my family and myself to come, thanks to CARSTAR, Axalta Racing, and Hendrick’s Motorsports. I had not been to a race before, let alone New York, so every second of the whole weekend was exciting. From media events to meeting drivers, seeing garages, pit road, I was afraid to blink that I would miss something. NASCAR is an extremely well organized event packed with excitement in every bit. I feel so grateful to have been able to witness the race at Watkins Glen first hand, up close and to be a part of the creative aspect in the #88 ensemble! Cystic Fibrosis patients represent!
What has been so far the greatest highlight of this experience?
One of the biggest highlights personally was seeing the finished helmet for the first time unveiled. I am overjoyed that an event as big as NASCAR held a piece of the CF community in its heart. I must say my experience riding in one of the pace cars, around the track, pre-race, comes pretty close though. That was awesome and I will never forget it!
What will #aworldwithoutCF mean to you?
A world without CF is a day I am extremely hopeful for. It would not only change so many lives, but save thousands of lives. That is a day I am determined to see. I believe in the power of our doctors, nurses, research companies, support from friends and families, and CF patients into prolonging and improving our quality of life until a cure is found. A cure would mean the feeling of being healthier again, of living longer, being free from this life-taking disease. CF has taught me so much and given me many incredible opportunities of meeting amazing people and living great experiences, however, I crave the freedom from the life of being sick as many other patients do. I look forward to not struggling to breathe. With CF I can still live a meaningful life to myself, but without it is the unknown. This unknown I know is a great one. We need it now more than ever. I hope in my heart it is in our near future.
Any last comment
Big thank you to Alex Bowman for bringing the disease of Cystic Fibrosis to light by rocking the helmet. Thank you for being one of our supporters, we will always be yours! If anyone would like to keep up with my artistic endeavors, you can follow or contact me on instagram @mikaylaartmikayla
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