WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Saturday morning at Watkins Glen International, Alex Bowman unveiled a beautiful new helmet with a meaningful message.
The “Accelerate the Cure” contest invited those with cystic fibrosis, their families and anyone affected by the disease to design a helmet for Bowman that illustrates what a cure for cystic fibrosis would allow them to do. It was created by CARSTAR alongside cystic fibrosis chapters across the U.S. and Canada.
“Really excited to show everybody,” Bowman said. “I think the helmet looks great, and it’s always really cool to have partners that do things to make things a little more meaningful and that kind of hit home.”
The winning design was submitted by Mikayla Bianchin, who is living with cystic fibrosis. She joined Bowman at Watkins Glen to unveil the unique helmet.
“Oh my gosh, this is my first time seeing the helmet,” she smiled after pulling off the cover. “It looks awesome!”
The blue color scheme features many different components that Bianchin pointed out to the gathered media, including DNA strands signifying that cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease.
She explained that while cystic fibrosis is a multi-organ disease, it mainly affects the lungs. That fact helped guide her design.
“I wanted to showcase lungs on the back, really bright and beautiful and in a blue light representing clarity, which is something that I look forward to in a cure of cystic fibrosis hopefully in the near future,” she said. “Clear breathing, deep breathing, is something a lot of people take for granted.”
Perhaps the most meaningful part of the helmet to Bianchin comes in the form of roses along the side.
It was important to her to include that element because of an anecdote that has stuck with her.
“There’s a really sentimental story to me about a young boy who has cystic fibrosis pronouncing it as ‘65 roses,’” she said. “So, that’s a really beautiful way of looking at the disease, that even though it’s painful, it’s very beautiful. I think that metaphor, it stays with a lot of people living with the disease.”
Bianchin’s winning design was selected by Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta, CARSTAR, Cystic Fibrosis Canada and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She will receive a VIP experience this weekend at Watkins Glen as a special guest of the No. 88 team.
She laughed when asked if she had any racing advice for Bowman as he’s set to take on the road course in the No. 88 Axalta/CARSTAR Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, sharing that she’s just glad her design will be along for the ride with him.
“I am really excited that you’re going to be wearing the helmet, so, thank you, and also thank you to Axalta and CARSTAR for making this happen,” she said. “I’m really happy with how it turned out.”