Fight against diabetes is family affair
Monday, Nov. 04, 2013

Fight against diabetes is family affair

    Oliver Paludo, 2, stands next to one of his father, Miguel’s, race trucks April 6 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va.
    Driver Miguel Paludo’s truck (32) showcases the American Diabetes Association’s “Stop Diabetes” logo and web address.
    Oliver Paludo, 2, stands in front of one of his dad’s race trucks.
    Patricia, Miguel and Oliver Paludo, age 18 months, wearing a tiny insulin pump on his left hip.
    Patricia, Miguel and Oliver Paludo, age 2, enjoy a moment together before a race.
    Miguel Paludo hugs his son, Oliver, 2, before a race.

Stopping to check his blood sugar at least six times a day has not slowed Miguel Paludo down.

The 30-year-old drives the No. 32 Duroline Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series. He also battles a disease with no cure – Type 1 diabetes – and cares for a toddler son with the same diagnosis.

“Diabetes cannot stop you from chasing your dreams – chase what you want to do and what you want to accomplish,” said Paludo.

Paludo, the first Brazilian to start in the pole position in a NASCAR series, came to the United States in 2010 with his wife, Patricia. After he won the Porsche GT3 Challenge series championships in 2008 and 2009 in Brazil, Paludo set his sights on NASCAR.

He lives in The Point in Mooresville with Patricia, his high school sweetheart, and their 2-year-old son, Oliver, whom they call Ollie.

Paludo began racing go-karts in 1997 when he was just 14. His brother, seven years his senior, did some racing for fun, and Paludo raced with him while also developing a passion for stock-car racing. At 21, he got serious about the sport. That same year, he discovered he had Type 1 diabetes.

“It was really hard. Going through all the steps, learning about the disease all those things that you don’t want to hear. … It is a seven-day, 24 hour disease that I have to control,” said Paludo.

At 8 months old, Ollie was diagnosed with the same disease. He wears a small insulin pump on his hip around the clock.

Paludo has made himself a spokesperson for the fight against diabetes, along with his son. They took part in the American Diabetes Association’s Step Out/Walk to Stop Diabetes on Nov. 2 at Symphony Park in Charlotte. Paludo wants to educate the public on the disease and especially raise more money to fund research that will ultimately find a cure.

Paludo said that the numbers of those diagnosed with diabetes is increasing, making the need for public education greater. Pat Higgins, manager at the Charlotte office of the ADA, said that more than 170,000 adults and children have diabetes in the metro Charlotte area. Higgins said that at the current rate, one in three people could have diabetes by 2050.

Fortunately, Paludo has never had any diabetes-related scares on the race track. However, Paludo said that caring for his son and living with the disease himself is scarier than his recent collision at the October race in Talladega, Ala.

“It is really scary for me and for my wife,” said Paludo. “Every decision we make we need to try to make the right decision. It is really hard. Diabetes is a silent disease.”

“People often think that only children develop Type 1 diabetes, but that’s not true,” said Dianne Roth, ADA Executive Director/Central Carolinas. “People can develop Type 1 diabetes, in which the body doesn’t produce insulin, at any time. And children are developing Type 2 diabetes, in which their bodies are resistant to insulin or don’t produce enough, at an alarming rate, particularly as obesity among children increases.”

After his 18th race of the year and nearing the end of his third year racing in the United States, Paludo was fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver point standings and confident in his ability to get close to No. 1.

Paludo said he hopes his efforts to succeed on the race track while also fighting diabetes will inspire people to live a better life. Paludo said his family is what keeps him going – Patricia and Ollie travel with Paludo to every race.

“I try to have them as close as I can because they are my life,” Paludo said.

Tara E. Moore is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Tara? E-mail her at

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