With a CEO who competes in triathlons and our office-wide focus on healthy living, it’s fairly obvious that we like to spotlight people in the diabetes community who are pushing themselves to do great things and bringing more awareness to Type 1.
That’s one of the reasons that led us to spotlighting friend and fellow Type 1 diabetes community member, Phil Southerland. Southerland was diagnosed as Type 1 at just 7 months old, and was told by his doctor that he likely wouldn’t survive past the age of 25. With the help of family and a strong will to compete and win, he went on not only to beat that prediction, but to become a professional athlete and a huge champion for diabetes management.
A lifelong athlete, he began competing professionally during his teen years when he became a professional cyclist. That competitive environment pushed him to understand how to manage his blood sugar not only to get through the day, but to outcompete his competitors. He realized early on that part of that practice was obsessively monitoring his blood-sugar levels – even up to 15 times a day. “Always knowing your glucose numbers is a major part in healthy living with T1.” “And exercise”, he insists, “is an essential component of being an athlete with diabetes.”
Now in his 30s – married, with a child of his own — Southerland is best known for his work with Team Novo Nordisk and Team Type 1 Foundation, which he co-founded with college friend Joe Eldridge.
Team Type 1 started off as a grassroots initiative to spread awareness of Type 1 and to help inspire others in the diabetes community who were struggling with managing diabetes. Since 2005, it’s grown into a global organization providing a global ambassadorship program that offers university scholarships, as well as advocating for better and more thorough diabetes care in third world countries.
Southerland’s love of physical exertion – and his belief that regular exercise is critical to the proper management of diabetes – led him to his career as a professional athlete, and later, to his role as CEO of Team Novo Nordisk, a consortium of 100-plus T1 endurance athletes who will compete in more than 500 events in 20 countries this year.
While Team Type 1 focuses solely on cycling and has a great government advocacy program, Team Novo Nordisk is made up of swimmers, cyclists, runners, and all-around serious athletes with the goal of increasing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes awareness. Their 100+ member team also competes in major races all over the world – with a goal of reaching the Tour de France by 2021. With Phil at the helm, and a great team of athletes behind him, there’s nothing stopping them.
To find out more about Phil’s work with Team Type 1 and Team Novo Nordisk, and how you can get involved, check out their websites: