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I’ve previously mentioned that I enjoy being a spectator of auto sports. There is a 24 sticker on my power chair commemorating my favorite NASCAR driver of the past-Jeff Gordon. A couple of years ago, I saw a TV segment profiling a sprint car racer from Iowa named McKenna Haase. I found it impressive that she founded a race team (Team Haase Racing, LLC) at just the age of 13 and ran her first sprint car race at 17. I also thought it was cool that she’s a trailblazing female driver who has won several feature events at tracks like Knoxville Raceway.

Through social media, I discovered she had supported the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Having had positive experiences with MDA, as someone living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), I wanted to learn more. So I had a Q&A exchange with Haase to do just that.

Q. How did you initially become involved with the MDA?

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A. I became involved with MDA through the MDA Muscle Team Gala sponsored by Casey’s General Stores. Casey’s has been a long-time supporter of my sprint car team since 2015, and through them, I connected with MDA and became one of their muscle team athletes. Each year at the gala, I, along with another handful of pro athletes, teamed up with an MDA ambassador buddy and enjoyed a fun and fancy evening to raise money for a great cause. I’ve also supported the MDA camps by donating items and also had the opportunity to support a similar foundation in Australia (MDA Warrnambool) during my time racing down under. He (who has DMD) approached me in Australia after seeing that I support MDA in America and asked if I’d be open to helping spread the word about his foundation, so we ran their stickers on my car and helped spread the word on social media.

Q. What are some things you’ve liked most about your work with MDA?

Auto racing trailblazer, McKenna Hasse, poses for a photo during an MDA event. Credit: McKenna Hasse

A. I’ve really loved learning about how all the funding raised is going towards active research and better treatment and seeing the results of that. I’ve worked with 10-20 MDA ambassadors, and every child I’ve met has been truly amazing in every way. They have the brightest personalities, the most positive attitudes, strong faiths, and great character. I’ve enjoyed being inspired by their fortitude and also their own passions and dedication toward treatments and cures. Muscular dystrophy is a disease I didn’t know a lot about before my work with MDA, but I have learned a lot about the struggles these families go through.

Q. Are there any other fans with muscular dystrophy you can recall meeting?

A. Not that I can recall. However, we have had many of the MDA ambassador buddies out to the track to join us for some racing action, and that has always been a fun time!

Q. Does it ever motivate you on the racetrack when thinking of these fans?

A. Absolutely. One thing I heard recently was, “Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow.” Sometimes when I’m racing or working out, it’s easy to think that what I’m doing is difficult, but then when I see the battles kids with muscular dystrophy have to fight, it reminds me to push a little harder and complain a little less.

Q. Would you like to add anything?

I’m so thankful for the sweet memories I have with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and I’m so thankful MDA, and Casey’s are giving me the opportunity to be a part of the cause on a more personal level. My hope and prayer are that more people will have similar opportunities to be educated on the struggles these families face and how they can make a difference.