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‘Racing, it helps me advocate’: Avon kid teaches on and off the track

Ty Arbogast
Posted at 7:17 PM, May 19, 2022

NEW CASTLE — Hitting the track is more than just a hobby for one Avon sixth grader.

It’s also a place he can educate others.

“If you want to race, you want to be here,” Ty Arbogast said. The 12-year-old’s second home is on the track. It is his happy place -- he’s a Hoosier after all.

Ty’s dad, Travis, is almost always by his side.

“I do the financing. I do the mechanic (work). I’m the crew chief. I’m kind of the mental coach. I do some driver coaching when we don’t have one available. I’m dad,” Travis Arbogast said.

The two travel around the country racing go-karts, but New Castle Motorsports Park is their home track, and often where you can find the two.

“He’s more than my son, he’s probably my best friend because we hang out more than anybody,” Travis Arbogast said.

Becoming a professional driver is Ty’s dream. Racing IndyCar is one of his dreams. Last year, though, the red flag waved on his racing career.

“We tried to race through it a little bit and it got to the point where he didn’t want to get on track, so 100% we knew there were some things that were wrong,” Travis Arbogast said.

Severe stomach pain, weight loss, fevers and sores in his mouth — Ty was sick, and it wasn’t long before doctors at Riley Hospital for Children diagnosed him with Crohn’s Disease. A year earlier the pre-teen also learned he had Alopecia Areata.

“At the moment, I’m trying to get in as much racing as I can because at some random time I could stop racing for a few months,” Ty Arbogast said.

Every week, Ty gets treatment injections. He also undergoes regular blood work and doctor’s visits. Right now, he is in remission, but a flareup could sideline him.

Crohn’s Disease, which is an inflammatory bowel disease, involves inflammation of the digestive tract.

Ty is racing with Crohn’s. The saying is on the front of his kart, back of his suit and on his helmet. He made the nonprofit called ‘Racing with Crohn’s’ to share with folks on and off the track what it means to hit the track with the autoimmune disorder.

“Racing, it helps me advocate for it and it’s helpful for me too to get away from everything,” Ty Arbogast said.

While winning is on his mind, helping others is his goal. The non-profit racing is also raising money for research and holding collection drives to help those in need.

“I think that for a kid of his age, to really be an advocate for people who deal with a chronic illness, like Crohn's disease – Absolutely, it brings important attention to a disease that impacts so many Americans,” Dr. Kathryn Harlow-Adams said. She is a pediatric gastroenterologist with Riley Hospital for children and Ty’s doctor.

Harlow notes Crohn’s Disease impacts nearly 1.6 million Americans.

“I think that there can be a lot of stigma when we talk about chronic illnesses, in particularly, chronic illnesses that deal with digestive tract issues," Harlow said. "Many kids don't want to talk about some of the symptoms that they're having that include loose stools, or blood per rectum and certainly just living with those symptoms day in and day out can be really hard for kids.”

The next time you see number 36 on the track, remember the kid behind the helmet. It is Ty Arbogast.

“People shouldn’t be like afraid to open their mouth and tell people what they have. If they don’t tell people, kids like me or younger could get picked on,” Ty Arbogast said.

One day Ty hopes to take his talents all the way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He tells WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri that if he wins the Indy 500, he will ask for some strawberry milk.

“It’s great when your kid can find their own passion. It’s not a passion I’ve passed down to him. It’s not something that he felt obligated to do. This is truly his passion,” Travis Arbogast said.