Knoxville native, Trevor Bayne is a man defined by many words: NASCAR driver, Christian, Multiple Sclerosis, husband, dare devil, thrill-seeker, son, brother and DAYTONA!  While all of these words are true, some are closer to his heart than others. 

At the ripe, old age of five, Bayne began his racing career.  At that time, his parents never dreamed that just a few years later he would be racing on the big scene of NASCAR.  During his childhood years, he competed in the go-kart circuit and earned three World Championships with more than 300 feature wins and 18 State and Track Championships.  But this was only the beginning of the Trevor Bayne legacy.  He continued on racing and winning for many years until the Dale Earnhardt Inc., signed him to be in its driver development program in 2008.  And this is when his career in racing went to the next level.  Not long after he began competing in NASCAR Camping World East he obtained his first NASCAR series win at Thompson International Speedway. All of these races, all of these wins led him to the big race held in Daytona every year.  Many call the Daytona 500, the “Super Bowl” of NASCAR.  And in 2011, Trevor Bayne took the title of the youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500 and it was his first attempt.  This is considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history.    

Throughout Bayne’s life, he has faced challenges that have forced him to determine what is most important in life, and the year of 2011 was no different.  For five races, Bayne could not drive due to what was thought to be a diagnosis of Lyme disease from an insect bite.  In June 2013, after many trips to the Mayo Clinic and a strong determination to find out the problem, it was discovered that Bayne has Multiple Sclerosis.  At the age of 22, he was given news that his life and career could potentially change forever, and now potentially be defined as a “Man with Multiple Sclerosis”. 

MS is a potentially disabling disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms can be mild, such as fatigue, or severe, including paralysis or loss of vision. There is no cure, but treatment can help manage symptoms and reduce the impact of the disease.  MS is not technically hereditary, but having a relative, such as a parent or sibling, with MS can increase an individual's risk of developing the disease over the general population. Studies have shown there is a higher prevalence of certain genes in populations with higher rates of MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“Fortunately for me at this point, it’s had no impact on me,” Bayne said.  “That’s been a huge blessing because there are people who have it worse.  There are some people that never even know they have it and live a perfectly normal life.”  At this time, Bayne does not have any symptoms nor is he taking any medication.  “I’ve never been more driven to compete,” Bayne said. “My goals are the same as they’ve been since I started racing. I want to compete at the highest level and I want to win races and championships. I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I feel good,” added Bayne. “I’m committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible. I will continue to trust God daily and know that His plan for me is what is best.”

In November 2013, Bayne decided to share his diagnosis with the world.  “Why not help other people through their struggles and point them in the right direction? For me, I feel like that's what I'm called to do, so I can’t be silent about it and not do anything.  I'm a race car driver, that's what I do, but it's not all of who I am."

The disease does not define the man.  The man defines the disease. 

Editor’s Note:  Article written by Heather Haley, East Tennessee Senior Directory.  A special thanks to Trevor Bayne for the feature story and photographs.