Phil Southerland Show Notes

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The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 11 - Phil Southerland

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Sam Benger

Published on Oct 15, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D all-star Phil Southerland. After a T1D diagnosis at just 7 moths old Phil would go on to compete as a professional cyclist, win the demanding Race Across America event, form Team Type One a professional Diabetic cycling team (now Team Novo Nordisk). Phil is also a dedicated Diabetes ambassador and philanthropist. Tune in now to hear Phil's powerful story!



what's up people Sam here with gameplan


I'm really excited to share today's

episode with you I was able to sit down

with Phil Sutherland Phil's

accomplishments are seemingly unending

so I'll list just a few here Phil is the

CEO and co-founder of team novo nordisk

formerly team type-1 a cycling and

athletic team comprised of an entirely

diabetic roster Phil was a successful

professional cyclist and part of the

victorious Race Across America cycling

team phil is a global diabetes

ambassador and philanthropist and you

can read about Phil's life in greater

detail in his autobiography not dead yet

all of these accomplishments occurred

after Phil's t1d diagnosis at just seven

months old at which point many doctors

told Phil's family that he wouldn't live

past 25 years old and that if he did

he'd suffer severe complications like

blindness clearly phil has defeated

those doubts and for that the t1d

community is and will be forever

grateful please enjoy my conversation

with Phil Sutherland


welcome to the game plan to you indie

podcast I'm your host Sam bender on this

podcast week for the lives of athletes

living with t1d

to try to uncover what it is that allows

them to excel

despite their diabetes today on the show

I am very lucky to be joined by Phil

Sutherland Phil how are you doing I'm

great Sam how are you today doing very

well so your journey as a diabetic

athlete and really as a diabetes

ambassador is so sprawling that I think

the best place to begin this

conversation is at the point of your

diagnosis and really your childhood

so as some people may know you were

diagnosed extremely early at just seven

months old so I wanted to talk to you

about growing up in Florida you were

able to overcome sort of numerous

expectations claiming that you'd be dead

by 25 years old so what was the mindset

for you from a young age that empowered

you to battle through those doubts well

you know I think the one of those I was

diagnosed in 1982 so let's put in

context there were no blood glucose

testing supplies was human insulin at

the time and my parents had to check my

glucose by squeezing urine out of my

diaper on that test strip to find out

where I was two hours four hours in

arrears so yeah it was a difficult time

for people with diabetes there it wasn't

that was a time where it wasn't if you

get complications but when you get

complications this technology was

horrible the treatment was archaic and

another never been a kid diagnosed at

seven months old before there probably

had been children at seven months of age

that had died because uh that's nearly

what happened to me but my parents got

you know the devastating news that your

kid's going to be dead by 25 and not his

blind but then they did a really good

job of isolating me from that belief I

was never allowed to use diabetes and as

an excuse my parents and once glucose

testing became available now after

probably six eight months after I was

diagnosed they started to realize that

when I was moving a lot my insulin

worked better

my numbers were better and they compared

my numbers to their numbers and said

well let's try to keep his as close to

non-diabetic as possible and exercise

has been you know a big role that since

now since I could crawl since I could

walk since I could run everything I've

ever done in life I've done it with

diabetes and sport at a young age became

a big part of my life it was swimming

football baseball basketball soccer

everything you know and a regular kid

would play and early on in the sporting

ventures I found that as my glucose was

low my glucose was too high and I didn't

perform to my best of my my capacity so

I had to develop a lot of systems early

on again and this is in the human

insulin days but my life was extremely

regimented you know I was shots at the

same time 7:00 in the morning 3:00 and

afternoon 7:00 at night 9:00 at night

every single day and then food meals

were the exact same time exercise

practice was at the same time and we

just worked my nutrition and so on

around what I was doing in sport I guess

I was blessed with a gene to want to win

I've been competitive my whole life I'm

still extremely competitive and I think

that drive to win makes the management

of diabetes easy because if you want to

win and life then you have to manage

diabetes and that's kind of that's the

attitude I've carried the whole way

through life and that's attitude we're

trying to pass on to the younger

athletes on team of an orican team type

one and so everyone's got issues but

diabetes is an issue for the most part

when you can afford your medicine your

insulin and you know with access to CGM

the sky's the limit of what's possible

with diabetes today absolutely so we'll

get into how sports sort of positively

impacted your journey as a diabetic

athlete and how it has the capacity to

do that for other people but I wanted to

get what was your and what is your

reaction now looking back on your

childhood at the state of that you

described it sort of archaic diabetes

management technology obviously today

a lot of athletes are on see GM's that

are you know reading every five minutes

what their number is and what their

blood sugar level is to their phone and

going back to what you described was a

situation at the point of your diagnosis

is it are you shocked at how you were

able to manage your diabetes despite

those challenges no I would say shocked

I mean but it's kind of I'm glad I made

it through I'm glad that I didn't do one

additional unit at some point as a kid

and died in the middle of the night you

know it's we had a lot of seizures back

then I still remember every year I'd get

the flu you know once a year every two

years and have to go in the hospital and

give that huge I enormous IV needle that

wish that that was the only thing that

scared me you know but it's just it was

I dealt with what I had to overcome at

the time and I think that's the tried to

do Gary all junior had to do it many

others did as well but when it comes to

the regimen and the discipline needed to

kind of eat the right things not stray

off the path I mean it was a great you

know lesson incredible

you know lessons and discipline at a

young age that no one else got the

privilege to have and you know I say

this as a privilege because I had great

energy ologists I had a great support

system around me with all of those

things combined it you know diabetes has

been privileged for me it could have

been far different had any one of those

pieces not been in place but uh we look

at the system back then I mean I just

remember when I was on the bike if I

were competing at all if I thought about

sugar yeah I thought what's my blood

sugar my safe and that was just to eat

you know and so it's that was my system

when I came in top ten in the national

championships as a junior top ten

national championships as an s4 and

races I lost it was my system was I

think I need'd I and I think I need a

drink drink

and there were a lot definitely a lot of

mistakes but I tried to make those

mistakes and practice versus competition

certainly and I think Phil you

highlighted a really important point I

think at the time of your diagnosis with

the technology leaps and bounds behind

what it is today you were forced to rely

on other preventative measures to

maintain a really solid blood sugar

level in exercising and having a

regimented diet do you think some of

those things are neglected today because

we have such advanced technology that be

absolutely aren't in brain I'm an

exercise and fitness and diet as much as

they should be I mean you just look it's

the type one population is living in the

same world as the rest of the world and

that means access to anything at a

moment's notice and now you know I think

one of the biggest mistakes out there is

kids think oh I are parenting my kid has

an insulin pump so they can eat anything

and let them ravage of junk food and

cokes and sneakers and you know all

stuff that's all okay in moderation but

just because you can push a button or

just because you can give an injection

and eat something doesn't mean you

should eat eat it

yeah healthy way of life is

exponentially more important for a type

1 diabetic than it is for a normal

person yeah it has immediate consequence

and I think people need with diabetes

especially I mean the holes all of

society they need to be healthier they

need to be more active we need to be

more conscious of doing the right things

from a nutritional standpoint from

exercise standpoint from health

standpoint we do all all of those than

diabetes quickly becomes I would say

easy but a lot easier to be successful

at yeah I think it's easy to fret and

worry and get anxious about you know

which which insulin pump should I use

which C GM should I use and these things

are costly and as you mentioned they're

not always easily accessible but at the

same time a diabetic can go out and walk

or cycle or run for an hour a day and

that's going to have massive impacts in

terms of stabilizing their blood sugar

and it's cost effective to

and it's much better easily accessible

so talking about the beginning of your

story as an athlete obviously a large

part of your stories intertwined with

cycling having recently just finished

your book it was really an amazing thing

to see how your passion for cycling grew

and eventually became sort of a tool

with which you could control your

diabetes and you mentioned Snickers

earlier and I thought that was kind of a

funny anecdote in the story how you'd be

cycling for a while and you'd kind of

start to feel a little bit shaky and

you're like all right I've earned that

Snickers so talk to us about how your

passion for cycling really started to

manifest yeah I mean the yeah was when I

learned to ride a bike I loved to ride a

bike and it became one of the things

that I used to get to my friend's house

to escape the house go explore the

neighborhood but when I was 12 I got to

introduce a beautiful tasty poison of

the stinkers bar and I well not a poison

it was was delicious then it's still

delicious today nothing has changed

about a sinkers bar in 24 years

but I made a candy bar at school you

know for the first time my blood sugar

when I got home was over 300 I knew that

was bad that would cause that could

cause me to go blind and so yeah I kind

of yeah and at the time with the human

insulin you know it took two hours to

kick in I twelve years old and today for

that matter I didn't have the patience

to wait for insulin to work to eat that

candy bar but I found if I rode my bike

to the gas station which was two miles

away from my house I'd stop get a

Snickers bar eat it and then go ride

until my legs hurt or so I you know and

I was either done riding or I'd stop at

another gas station get another Snickers

bar and then keep riding and it was

really I started riding Pete junk food

and then you know as time went on I was

eating junk food so that I could ride

longer and longer and it wasn't until 16

17 years old and my brother's at the

bike shop the guys who raised me

essentially you know said Phil yeah if

you want to seriously

be competitive in cycling then you gotta

quit eating that stuff and start go buy

this gel or that bar this that or the

other and my nutrition on the bike began

a shift and my focus on victory really

tightened up yes Snickers only diet can

only power you so far I mean no it was

at the time I was a kid and I want to

eat that candy bar had diabetes and I

found a way to do it and for me that was

spike that's the cool part is it yeah

and I think it's a lesson that still in

today's age it's when it's cold in the

in the winter months and I get the

chance to go on some long bike rides I

still go back to being a 12 year old kid

and eating candy bar so I can do do so

so it's just ya know I tell people

today's if you want to if you want to do

something it's all about just planning

accordingly and today's age you can do

anything you want with diabetes you just

got to have the right stuff around you

to do so so speaking on that topic of

planning and being strategic talk to us

about how you started to sort of push

the boundaries on the bike so from from

your story and from your book I

understand you started out in the month

on the mountain bike eventually

transition to a road bike but talk to us

about some of those first

really challenging races I know in the

book you mentioned you did a 12 hour

race where you were racing through the

night and then eventually all the way to

race across America but talk to us about

how you start to sort of push those

boundaries and how you manage to keep a

consistent level of blood sugar sort of

throughout that growing process good

question so I kind of always liked doing

big things that people said you know I

couldn't do now doubt has been a big

fueler of all the innovation that we've

created over the years when people said

you can't do something no I had to he

said a chip on my shoulder or whatnot

but I had to prove them wrong and that

at the 12 hour race was kind of that was

a really big moment for me because five

months prior some guys said there's no

way you can do that

and I said I'll do a 12-hour race you

can't do it and then I said let's bet

and the guy bet me a hundred bucks I

didn't have $100 but I wasn't going to

lose so it didn't matter and so I

thought that was something I decided to

do I trained probably the wrong way I

probably over trained to get ready for

it but I did the best I could with the

knowledge I had at the time and I was

able to to do that race and it was a big

race I was the first kid under 18 to

have ever done it and guys I've had a

good strategy going in from fueling

nutrition got a little jacked up I

remember seeing my blood sugar over 400

at one point in the race had to give a

unit of ensel and then I was a little

bit on the lower side the next lap so I

just hate more food but it this is a

race you could stop in the pits you know

recharge yourself take a breather for a

sec and then get back out there when I

just kept it steady the whole day and

yeah define one one guy who was a top 12

hour racer at least in the southeast at

the time he killed me then there's a

second place guy who was not so far

ahead and then on my last lap I caught

him I passed him and you know this was

put out a light racing through the

singletrack trails in Ocala Florida at

night and my light was dead so they

stopped me no one had a replacement

light for me and this kid this guy John

Morehouse came through he saw a battery

and he went out for another lap and I

watched my second place right away and I

got third but you know for me I was

devastated because I thought man I could

have been second that but then as the

next week when I went in a bike shop I

was like a superhero to those guys they

were all really proud really impressed I

validate it my belonging and in the

sport and then it was hey there's a road

race next weekend give it a try I did I

got the place I made 20 bucks which was

enough for gas for food and I had $5

left at the end which was glorious I was

like I can make money on the bike sure

why not

and then it went on I just I always

so I had to train more than the others

train harder than the others work harder

than the others and I did that went on

for four years if my coach said do three

hours I did three hours he said five

hours I did five hours you never more

never less just always you know

according to the program and I'll give

credit to the success of the discipline

I had at the time it was an unwavering

discipline a very selfish discipline

that probably didn't do much for my

social life in high school didn't do

much for anyone but me but and then

that's something I would somewhat regret

that was too self focused at the time

but it was all kind of part of the

journey and you know the bike led me to

a lot of fun it made a lot of success

and then yeah my first senior year in

college I met Joe and he became my first

friend with diabetes at 21 years old and

then that's when you know the bike began

a purpose and I'd say you know when I

met Joe when I helped him get motivated

to take control of his diabetes then all

of a sudden the bike head of true

meaning in life it was like I can use

the bike not just help myself win races

get glory or whatever it is that a kid

is searching for but I could use the

bike to help other people get motivated

to take control get other people

motivated to pursue their dreams and

hopefully and sometime we'll get to the

tool to France and unify the diabetes

world so that's that was an important

transition moment and college and then

the race cross America was just again

another crazy idea that everyone I told

out we were going to do it said no way

not possible first you can't raise the

money raised the money can't buy the

bike sponsors found the bike sponsors

can't actually compete and even you know

our sponsors at Abbott diabetes care at

the time they gave us the money to do it

they were on trials with the freestyle

navigator at the time I wish now at the

Libre and and they didn't think we could

do it so they didn't invest anything and

the PR effort

around it because they were worried we

were going to quit or not be able to

finish because of diabetes and we got

second place and they said wow you

actually did it

see yeah I said we were going to do it

they said okay we're in for more next

year we want to make it bigger we really

want the world to see and that was that

was kind of the beginning it wasn't

someone say the race across America was

the beginning of the journey but I'd say

to finish the fact that we did so well

that first year you know as a team of

diabetic athletes you know that is what

it was

yeah proof of the pudding that allowed

us to kind of set bigger goals kind of

led us to where we are today yeah I

think Sports is and as you found with

cycling such an important platform in

terms of advocacy for diabetes and just

showing what can be done but I did want

to dive into that a bit more of the

details behind Race Across America and

what were some of the highs and lows of

committing to just such an endeavor it's

a 3,000 mile relay race across the

United States and you know talk to us

about when that idea first popped into

your head and then also just some of the

the high moments and low moments of that

race yeah so the idea was actually it

was formulated at as JDRF ride to cure I

gave this is like May 18 2005 I gave my

first public speech yeah some I was

going out to do the JDRF ride occur in

Carmel California somehow I was asked to

speak to the crowd the night before I

did I told the story of Joe and i's

blood glucose competitions you know we

came in first and second in the the

charity ride and people like so what's

your Sugar's you know who's going to buy

dinner and one of us was 88 the other

was 89 I don't remember who and Plus you

know dinner was free that night but

we're sitting there having some some

celebratory beers after the ride and

someone said you guys really there's

something something to this team type

one I was five months into existence at

the time you guys got to do something

big ride your bikes across America and I

was had just graduated yeah

college I had a mountain of debt which I

had to work to pay off big and bribe I

don't have a month to ride my bike

across the country but you know the race

across America we could do that so we

agreed that night four of us that all

diabetic race team get across the

country I don't it's more research and

so there was a person team looked at the

records I think thought we can beat that

and we set out to do so the original two

of the four who over beers agreed you

know unfortunately had to which all

themselves then what about I got some

press yeah buddy chair Gruber is now one

of the cycling's best well-known

photographers now he wrote a piece and

PES cycling news for me back in may of

2005 and I got contacted by what do you

know six other type-1 athletes who had

interests to do the race across America

so put the team together and that was

the easy part

then phase two was the bike sponsorship

and that was just I was 23 years old at

this enter bike conference and if people

in the diabetes world are listening it's

like the a da or the EAS D going on

right now of cycling and I went out

there and a suit a tie

120 proposals and I walked around the

entire tradeshow looking for sponsorship

now 99% of people said yes we'd be

delighted to sponsor 98% of people did

not return my phone calls or emails the

following week but it was all part of

the journey and we then we ended up by

December I'd lock down cycling sponsors

I'd lock down helmets glasses clothing

partnership from the Weather Channel

documentary channel for this Race Across

America but we still had no money and I

was on a navigator trial with my doctor

Bruce bode and I said Bruce this is what

we need to race across the country

successfully it was the first time it

had CGM data during exercise in all my

life and I learned more and the first

two days on a CGM about my diabetes and

I've learned in 24 years it just blew my


was happening to my sugar on a daily

minute-by-minute basis and yeah it

enabled me to get a whole lot better a

lot of pasture and I said we have to

have this so Bruce called Holly colt

who's you know still Holly mogera now

dear friend I met her and her husband

Jeff after making a big pitch at Abbott

and there were a lot of heads nodding

but it was a product that was not yet

FDA approved they had no launch

well they had a launch plan but approval

had to happen and Holly gave me the

tough news at dinner that it was going

to be like finding a needle in a

haystack to get the money mobilized at

this point in a year and she said but

Jeff and I have done very well in our

lives and we feel this is important so

if we can't find the money within the

company then we'll write you a personal

check and you could just need to happen

for people diabetes and I cried at the

dinner table that night when she told me

yeah I was like I booked everyone the

team I said guess what we have the money

and and that was that the training began

and then we had a with the eight riders

and then we over crew to ourselves the

first year and we had 36 volunteers 36

people who gave up ten days in the

summer time to come go 23 miles an hour

across the country and you know it was

huge thanks to all of them family

friends just random volunteers showed up

to help us make this dream come true it

was a little bit too many people we were

chaotic we'd never done this before so

there were ton of mistakes made but it

was it was just a priceless experience

that I'll never forget and something I

think doing that for the first time was

just such a major win for people with

diabetes all over the world nobody we

didn't have social media back then it

was a word of mouth kind of thing but

the word had begun to spread and I think

that then empowered a lot of other

diabetes organizations to start people

with diabetes to begin at start advocacy

organizations and team type-1 doing that

in 2006 just

change the world of diabetes forever and

I'm proud of my teammates for of which

we still stay in touch for which

unfortunately there was a divide and the

team that first year and I regret that I

not in touch with the other four on a

regular basis because they were part of

that change for sure

it's an amazing accomplishment and I

wanted to ask you it almost sounds like

there was a race across America just to

get the team funded and get the team

together was there it almost appears

that the race was almost an afterthought

at that point what was it like finally

getting on the bike after all of the

hard work that went into setting up the

team and getting it funded I mean III

remember the very first poll that I got

to do for the team and you know it was

it was hard the first moment of the race

at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and it was

a four-mile con I got stung by B my head

or my somewhere on my women my helmet

stung stung me but my RA was 175 beats a

minute and we said 3,000 miles ago

it was so it was miserable that first

climb it was a miserable start to the

race but then I got in a van and and

that's what race across America was it

was you go ride your bike as hard as you

can for 15 minutes then you get in a van

and your friends make fun of you you

make fun of your friends and then it's

just and copy paste for eight hours then

you get off and it's a different set of

people making fun of you giving you food

taking care of you nutrition sleep all

that stuff then wake up some point in

the middle of night and then get back on

bike do it again and we have this repeat

itself over and over and over for five

days 16 hours and 4 minutes that first

year but it was yeah it was a difficult

start but yeah I mean I was the fact

that we were starting the race 14 type-1

was it was a dream come true it hurt

like hell but it was a dream in the


certainly worth all the pain I think

what's perhaps even more compelling than

just a pure physical exertion is sort of

the guiding vision behind the founding

of team type-1 as you mentioned Joe

Eldridge was a co-founder in that

initiative but I thought a really cool

anecdote from your book not dead yet was

when you were doing fundraising while

you were still at University of Georgia

I believe and you were at a Starbucks I

could be getting some of the details

wrong especially you were asked what

would you do if you had four hundred

dollars right now and you were able to

speak sort of concisely and to the point

about what what the guiding vision of

team type-1 would would be and what you

guys would do as a platform for advocacy

for inspiration for other type one

diabetics talk to us about what that

experience was like and what the really

driving vision for team type one was and

is yeah I remember that day like it was

yesterday was February 22nd 2005 I'm

actually in my office looking at the

framed picture of those four Ben

Franklin's that I always keep in my


that's um and I was part of the survey

team type-1 was still in the idea mode

at that that time but I had to go out as

part of a business plan class project

for my management class and ask people

if this company existed would you buy

the product would you invest in it would

you support it that I had asked at least

10 people and I've gotten some yeses

from we support gator f know we support

cancer organizations know we support you

know Christ you know please you know

just you know so I got a mixed bag of

reactions of what people like to be a

part of team type-1 well then I spent 15

minutes talking to a business professor

from he taught MBA students at

University of Michigan who happened to

be at that Starbucks malla Georgia on in

February and then I came to this guy who

was the last one I'd expect to be a


jeans a t-shirt glasses smoking a

cigarette coffee in one hand and a small

gap in his teeth bald balding him head

and I said and I explained you know

we're going to use the bike as a

platform we're going to inspire people

diabetes to take better control we want

to try to unify the diabetes community

through sport and then ensure that we

can all have equal access to medicine

going forward and the guy said there's

something to this what would you do with

$400 and at the time I was working my

way through school and racing selling

t-shirts and business cards I was you

know the vice president of marketing

which is a really cool business card to

have in college but as the vp of

marketing for LS designs and I said well

if I had 400 bucks

i buy hundred t-shirts and I buy

business cards too with that I have a

website on it and use those as you know

to start the awareness campaign and the

guy took out 400 bucks he said go start

your company kid and I can't take money

this is a class project it's not not

officially looking for investors at this

point he said and he said you need to

start this you need to start it now and

put four 400 bucks put his coffee cup on

top he said go start your business now

or someone else and have a good day at

Starbucks so I took the money we

exchanged contact info Daniel Hopkins

was his name I got his email D Hopkins

at Bell South dotnet got his phone

number he got mine life went on so I

drove straight from there Starbucks to

Bank of America my bankers name was

Harry pink oh I don't know anyone's name

now but yeah I remember my banker from

February 22nd 2005 Harry Banco at 350 I

walked in the bank by 4:15 the bank had

closed but he got my account started

with team type-1 I drove straight to my

office I said I need a hundred t-shirts

Jane Meredith was her name she did the

designs and my boss mark Polansky

you know agreed to give us the shirts at

three bucks a pop and business cards at

50 so after tax

on day 1 of operations I'd raise $400

I'd spent 387 and I was hoping these

t-shirts look good so I could keep the

company going

so that was yeah it was just again I

knew people needed help

yeah I didn't know what type of help I

had no idea what the challenges on a

global scale were but I knew from the

few people I met with and spoke with

diabetes that people were lacking heroes

they were lacking a daily dose of

inspiration and a lot of them were

struggling to afford the medicine so we

needed to we need to change and there

was just there wasn't a anything

diabetes was at that time was doom and

gloom now you're going to go blind from

diabetes you're going to you can't do

this you can't do that there was no one

kind of leading the charge of what you

can and what you what you can do and how

big you can do it with diabetes and

that's that's all I wanted at the time I

wanted to use the bike as a platform to

help people realize they could and it's

you know I confess that it's chrome far

outgrown my wildest expectations this 23

year old but I've got a lot more

expectations that now today that I hope

we can wildly outgrow some years down

the road I think it's so refreshing to

see a story like that were you know just

random good happens to good care so all

right so here's the cool part the best

part about that not the best so you know

being a good steward at the time I sent

actually I think Dan Watkins an email to

say thank you well bad email bounced

back and I sent every version of Daniel

Hopkins that built out that there could

be never got through called the phone

number he gave me and it was like you

remember that good number to do do do do

this number does not exist please hang

up and try again yeah I think in huh I

got I wouldn't got in Atlanta phonebook

because he said he did construction in

Atlanta I looked up every Daniel Hopkins

I called every single one of them never

never found the guy until Daniel Hopkins

is this the essence of an angel investor

I mean this guy is an angel investor

I've never been able to find him

and I'd love to say thanks because he

was right it did I did need that

investment at the time and a lot of good

is you know we braised it'll be a

hundred million will hit this year since

that moment he gave me those first four

hundred dollars Wow and he probably had

to disguise on too because that's pure

altruism you know it was Wow

it was I'm so yeah I remember those

moments vividly like it was yesterday

and I'm very grateful that we we had

that better lucky than good good

sometimes right and right place right

time and just happen work out so Phil

you mentioned $400 to now cutting up on

a hundred million in funds raised for


what has it been like seeing the

evolution of this team of this vision of

this dream and as you mentioned growing

it to team novo nordisk where you have

cyclist triathletes and runners as well

now all performing sort of under that

uniting force of t1d and showing people

what can be done with t1d well a lot of

changes no that's remain the same

there's still still a vision to change

the world still vision to unite people

with diabetes a little older which comes

with experience but also can Jade your

mind a little bit if I I love having

these conversations where you bring me

back to when it started because I look

to when it started it was I was a kid

who was going to do it and it was going

to do it because it had to be done it

was the right thing for people diabetes

and you know I need reminders of that

from time to time to bring it back to

day one just to have that attitude of it

needs to happen so we have to do it

doesn't matter what anyone says doesn't

matter what the circumstances are it's

got to be done and you know so I look to

you know we won bike races first it was

wasting across America which people said

we couldn't do then it was winning the

race across America which year one to

year two you know year one we were the

charity case of the race people saying

congratulations good luck we love what

you're doing for charity and I was

saying well we're here

when and people kind of patted me on the

shoulder saying oh that's that's nice

young man that's really good I'm

congratulations on being so optimistic

but no one has ever seen a diabetic do

an event like this let alone a team of

diabetics so fast forward to the second

year we show up and everyone was scared

- the diabetic team right it was they

were afraid of us because we were there

to win and when we did - we're gonna

race on a professional level

yeah that's impossible and then we did

it and then people were scared of the

diabetic team team type 1 - then from

2012 where we were the 25th ranked team

in the world we were the diabetes team

according to all professional cycling on

the verge of Giro d'Italia - response

imitations which is going to globalize

hope for people with diabetes - the

chance to partner with nova notice can

create an all diabetic team go back to

our roots as yak-yak have said to me

back then and we did and then people

said there's no way and all diabetic

team can compete and mind you it was a

big struggle to do so at first but we've

now become fierce competitors in the

dalton and every race we do around the

world and in the on the in between we've

change i met my wife in macedonia

she changed the diabetes policy in a

matter of months working for the

Ministry of Health and insured every

type one diabetic at 6 to 15 test trips

today basil was insulin insulin pumps

covered 100% by the government it's to

think that you know I just this little

country of Macedonia which struggles

financially but they put up the funds

and the fight for their people to ensure

they had the best-in-class insulin with

not one cent of copay to the people we

needed it's a country that takes care of

the people you know to helping them

Rwanda and other developing countries

around the world where we've ensured

people have access to glucose testing

and governments who are invested at

least emotionally in diabetes for the

first time seem now having world leaders

see people with diabetes as champions

means that were we can be work capable

population and a population worth

investing in a healthy diabetic

is a powerful citizen because they can

do so much more than so many others but

a diabetic without in access tends one

without access to glucose testing

supplies or see GM's

now we can we can be troublemakers and

no one will ever understand what how

hard it is to live a life where you

don't can barely afford your insulin

keep where you can barely afford oxygen

and in this day and age that's becoming

a big problem and it's something we have

to work with the companies to change so

I don't know it's it's been a great

journey to grow our platform to grow our

voice and we we solved for the problem

that needed to be solved for back then

which was we need heroes and team type-1

I give 100 college scholarships now to

n-c-double-a a fleet suite type-1 trying

to generate that next group of change

agents that's part of my hero factory

over there we've got the hero factory a

team of a Nordisk with our development

team our professional team just ensuring

that no matter where you are in the

world when you get diagnosed with

diabetes or if you have diabetes and

need a hero you've got one and our

athletes but now there's a different

problem that needs salt or and that's

accessibility to insulin that's

supported yeah accessibility to the n

phone you want for a price that you can

afford and that's different for

everybody and that's kind of the the new

challenge of the day and it's one that

has to be solved for and that's that's

my next challenge to tackle so I think

yeah it's you ask me about life with

diabetes back way back when on the

archaic insulins and I think what I said

then was I did the best that I could

with what I had at the time and I think

now I have to apply that to where we are

as a business and a company now it's

what is the greatest need what is the

biggest challenge that's going to

benefit the most people with diabetes

and how do we solve to that and so it's

it's great to be able to think in much

broader stroke pictures that can have

far more reaching impact than we were

able to at the beginning the beginning

it was one change in the lives for

people diabetes one person at a time one

handshake at a time one conversation at

a time and now we can just do things on

we still have that grassroots impact

amongst all of our different athletes

all over the world

but we can also have broader reaching

governmental changes governmental

changes that can impact populations at a

time and that's that's a cool feeling

but it also yeah I know what the

problems are out there I know how we can

solve for them it's about bringing

people together to solve to them so

people with diabetes can live better

lives can live more empowered lights and

then still be inspired to to dream big

certainly and I think what's perhaps a

really interesting observation is sort

of a commonality in your identity where

you're always trying to push to sort of

that next you're kind of pushing the

envelope on the bike from a young age

and then with racing across America and

just continually setting goals now from

an advocacy and diabetes ambassadors

standpoint that are again sort of within

that common thread of always pushing the

envelope and I did want to talk you

addressed it already but in perhaps a

little bit more detail about some of the

ambassador work you're doing abroad you

mentioned Rwanda what was the process

like in trying to improve accessibility

to insulin and glucose meters in Rwanda

and what was sort of the driving vision

for that project and 2009 I went to my

first EAS D which is the European

biggest European diabetes conference

17,000 people were in Vienna and I was

trying to get team type-1 launched into

Europe saying us we can just inspire

people educate people empower people

with diabetes to take control and then

the president of the IDF at the time

Martin splenic I approached him and I

said hey here's what we're doing he goes

did you know that for 10 million dollars

we could ensure every personal diabetes

in the world had insulin I said they

don't and you know I was just this naive

kid coming from America where

everything's great all the time and he

said yeah people are dying because they

don't have access to medicine I said huh

and he's I said but I checked 20 times a

day I get 10 injections day every day

said yep but there's many in the world

who don't many in the world who don't

make it average life expectancy for a

kid with diabetes and

developing countries seven months and I

said excuse me

you know I guess what was I 27 at the

time I said I've looked 27 years no

complications he goes yeah but for most

of the world that's not the case and

that really that became a hyper focus of

mine I went on a two-week backpacking

trip in Europe by myself just hopping on

train stand in hostels you know

exploring Europe but all I could think

about was you know there's kids dying

because they don't have access to

insulin this is BS it's got to change

and two months later I'm in Montreal

another at IDF Congress I medicate

Francois G shoma

from Rwanda and I said Francois I've

heard about this

- of Rwanda bike race and we'd really

I'd like to bring you know a diabetic

team to come compete could we work with

you on that he said oh yes it'd be nice

very inspiring for my patients I said to

struggle with access for testing

supplies they said yes and I said what

if I could bring blood glucose testing

supplies for all your people in your

clinic and bring whatever supplies we

could you know bring together to give to

you and Francois was in his late 50s at

the time got on his hands and knees with

tears and I said please come my my

children need you my children need you

and so that's you know seeing that need

just for me was inspiring it's like okay

we can we can help so I brought 400

blood glucose meters 37,000 test strips

hodgepodge other stuff I nearly bankrupt

team type one and 2010 to do this trip

but I knew it needed to be done we

finished that year with 420 dollars in

the bank account and I hadn't taken a

paycheck in two months because we had to

make ends meet but going there the first

time and seeing that these kids wanted

to take control their diabetes but all

the diabetics in the country at the

stomach growth you know they were had a

one sees over 14 over 14 over 14

because there they had access tensile in

some months not other months none of

them had blood glucose meters now I'm

giving out these meters the kids and the

families and the kids are happy because

they have a toy and that's cool

especially in developing world but the

parents had tears in their eyes because

for the first time in their lives they

believed that their children could live

and I knew we had it had to change this

mindset and you know once you go then

you can't not go a second time I

realized that wow these when you do the

math it's like 37,000 test trips it

sounds like a lot but when you're

talking about 400 people it's not really

it's not going to last that long so I

found ways to for the next year I

smuggled in in bike boxes another

quarter million test strips and then

being a mizune go which is what they

call the white man and in Rwanda I've

been a mizune go I've quickly worked my

way to the permanent secretary of the

Ministry of Health that's the number two

position essentially and she said I want

to take care of diabetics but I have no

money you know and I said then she said

the prices are too high and I don't have

money for diabetes that's what I saw

wait this is crazy here she wants to

help but it's just public resource

that's preventing her from helping

people with diabetes and I kept pushing

her and kept pushing her the next year I

met my wife as I said Bill Jana

Sutherland but Billy onigiri Giada at

the time who was leading the national

program for diabetes in Macedonia that's

all how quickly a motivated person in

government could change the landscape

for a country and then I introduced

Liana to on us and Rwanda and quickly

those two formed out a Memorandum of

Understanding we made an official team

type one was now a partner of the

government and we went on to become the

official blood glucose supplier for the

country and you know that's still the

case today but honest began to become

motivated for diabetes

we helped bring funding into the country

through the world Diabetes Foundation

and now there's diabetes healthcare

infrastructure for the entire country of

Rwanda we've got the minister health

focus on the disease

fighting for resource so that she can

have money to care for people and fun is

on the formulator for the government

insurance which means it's there's now

affordable insulin for every personal

diabetes in Rwanda and we're getting

blood glucose monitoring supplies added

to the formulary as well so you know for

me it's you know it feels great but it's

it's taken eight years of effort

countless trips the country and

advocating all of the world to make this

happen and I'm super proud that it's

been done but I know it could have all

been done quicker if there was just

public money available for diabetes for

the NCDs as they're called you know

because we're one of the big four NCDs

diabetes cancer cardiac and then

pulmonary you know one something or


you know those diseases account for a

large portion of the deaths from disease

in the world yet there's about 240

million public funding a year for those

diseases in the developing world that's


you just in Rwanda there's 22 million

dollars from PEPFAR allocated to HIV

tuberculosis and malaria but zero for

diabetes and it says there's you know

you can look at it from two ways there's

one there's big problems when it comes

to diabetes on a global basis you know

America is the new Africa when it comes

to insulin and affordability but it's

also a big opportunity to create change

that's going to make the lives of people

diabetes better and I don't look at

problems as problems I look at them as

opportunities for solutions and we need

a lot more solutions on a global scale

before we truly see the power of people

with diabetes you know on a continual

basis because right now it's yeah it's

just it's a tough world out there things

need to change because there's great

medicine there's great influence out


the continuous monitors are phenomenal

you know when you have these tools life

with diabetes is it's just life but when

any one of these tools goes missing then

you know diabetes can begin to rear its

ugly head as a pain in the ass again and

we want to stop that from happening


one in the world on a sustainable basis

yeah I think perhaps one of the more

tragic things as you touched on is the

fact that we have a discrepancy in terms

of care in the United States where we

have people on CE GM's and it's really

you know a life where you're not going

to expect to encounter major

complications but then you go across the

pond you go to you know sub-saharan

Africa you go to India you go to places

in the developing world and as you

mentioned you know this is my death

sentence in type 1 diabetes we have that

care available and it's just a matter of

you know the economic cost of bringing

those drugs into place and bring the

supplies into place it's really a

situation that requires change leaders

like yourself and teemed of a Nordisk

so we thank you for for that effort and

on that front in in terms of building

further advocacy and awareness regarding

diabetes care what's next for team novo

nordisk I know you mentioned hopefully

getting to the Tour de France what are

some of the the next major things coming

up for Team Novo Nordisk

yeah I mean they're yeah the next the

team is racing this week in Germany we

go next week we're in China you know

we're going to continue our you know

advocacy via success and sport when

continual basis from my situation you

know we're looking also we're launching

a research partnership with novo nordisk

so we're going to begin to be a bit more

intelligent with how we collect our data

of the athletes while they're training

while they're racing and you know see if

we can now we've got a really superb

medical team like micro Dell which brac

and miles Fisher Bruce bode more

Christians and see I think might be it

and then the team of analysts medical

staff all working together to see how

can we begin publicize papers of what we

do how we do so that we can better

educate every health care professional

the world to me you know be better

advisors to their patients to the people

with diabetes who want to go out there

and do their first their first run their

first bike ride their first bout of

exercise because they're still you know

I'm looking in my office now at a

picture of our professional team from

last year 16 of 18 of those guys were

told they'd never raced the bike again

because of diabetes receiving 12 of the

18 not 16 12 of the 18 we're told not to

race bikes Neela so there's still

doctors out there in the world who are

telling patients people with diabetes

upon diagnosis that they can't pursue

their dreams fortunately a lot of us

diabetics my wife will vouch for this

are very stubborn and yeah when you when

you want something yeah you're going to

fight for diabetes or not and I think

diabetes only chooses the champions but

these athletes didn't listen to their

initial doctors warnings and they

pursued cycling and I've been able to

reach it to the professional level

our junior team now not one of those

kids who's told they could never race

again in fact most of them had showed

their diagnosing doctor team over notice

before they left the hospital which is

to me is really really cool that the

darkest day can be the brightest day for

people now nowadays thanks to our social

social media presence so you know we

have to you know I think getting all

this research out and getting the data

the show just how physically talented

people with diabetes can be should be a

big inspiration to the healthcare

professional community out there so they

can then know it from a factual

standpoint from a it's in a white paper

some research journal somewhere and when

it's there that means it's also it can

reach patients out there

I want I'd like it so that whenever the

next generation the newly diagnosed are

diagnosed that they immediately know

that they can go out and pursue their

dreams because the diagnosis day for so

many people has been so hard so

difficult you know it is so difficult no

matter what but it can also be inspiring

and I want that diagnosis day for

everyone going forward to be one of

those inspiring days to where they know

that they're part of the

coolest team out there that's teamed up

a notice and the more research we get

out the more data we get publicized the

more press that we get the more noise

that we make the faster the world is

going to realize that people with

diabetes are champions that people with

diabetes deserve to be invested in and

then we can fast track getting access to

the best tools technology and influence

to the people who need it and that's

people with diabetes because the tools

are out there for every person the world

with diabetes to be the greatest

champion they want to be so we got to

ensure that they get those tools and

then they go out living every day as


not just to manage diabetes but to

manage their life their dreams their

goals their aspirations and then take

care of the diabetes and the background

on a continual basis because it's when

you take care of it when you dream big

you do amazing things but when when

those pieces are missing then diabetes

can be hard and we want to well you know

it's I'm not gonna lie it's not it's not

an easy to tease you know it's always

there it's always with you I probably

check my blood sugar BMI see my decks

come here four times during the

interview that we've done during this

podcast you know and that's I didn't

have to prick finger so if that's the

life that I should live and that's the

life that every person with diabetes

should live and I want to make that want

to make that the case

everyone needs to aim and dream big and

if we all do together if we all unify

together then this diabetes voice here

in the US yeah round the world together

collectively we can ensure that every

brother and sister we have with diabetes

in every corner of the world is unified

in the tools that we have to live great

lives with diabetes and until that's

done you know I will always have work to

do and I really feel that the team you

know getting to the Tour de France is

what will enable that global unification

for people with diabetes that's what

will enable you know our voice to be the

loudest it's ever been and when we can

have the microphone to the world we're

going to talk about the vital need of


affordable access to the best

medications out there because that's

what makes dreams come true and

consequently it's also what can kill

dreams if they don't have it and we want

to we want to be the enabler of dreams

and every corner of the world I love the

message I love the driving force behind

everything as they're trying to do and

starting to wrap up fill outside of

ensuring access to the technology and

medicine that will empower the hopes and

dreams of other people living with t1d

we like to ask sort of a common closing

question perhaps there was a person who

has just recently diagnosed or someone

who's been living with t1d that's going

through a particular patch what would

your message be to that individual and

why I'd encourage you to find a reason

to take control now it's you know what

what is it in life that you want to do

what is it you want to be a good parent

do you want to be a good grandparent one

day do you want to run your first 5k do

you want to ride your first you know 100

mile ride whatever is out there and like

that you want to achieve and then

realize that taking good control of your

diabetes is going to enable that to

happen so once you find the light switch

and turn it on and walk through that

door saying that I'm going to take

control once you walk through that door

then you're there all you have to do is

want to do it and then take the steps

needed to do it but you got to find the

reason behind it and for me the reason

was to be a good athlete now today the

reason is I want to be you know I've got

two children and not two boys another

that's going to be here any day now and

I want to be around to see their their

children grow up I want to be a

grandfather and I want to be around for

all of my kids first steps all my kids

first races first competitions and for

me I know that taking good control my

diabetes is what's can enable those

dreams to come true

so for Joe he wanted to beat me and

bleed oh betting he wanted me to pay for

his dinner one night so it's all about

what is what's going to help you get


to take control and find that it could

be it can be something simple like a

sink or a bar or it could be something

complex like you know washing your

grandkids grow up one day or being the

Supreme Court justice like justice

Sotomayor or you know running the

country like Theresa made us you know

it's in the UK you know any any dream as

possible but no no dream with diabetes

as possible unless you take control so

find that find your dream whatever it

might be and then check your blood for a

few more times little tighter and your

diet get out there exercise take those

small steps to make the dream come true

and enjoy life because if you have

diabetes you're in the champions club

you're in the cool kids club and you're

on the best team in the world and we're

proud to have you as one of us I really

love to say that it you know granted you

you approach it the right way and adopt

the right mindset t1d can be an absolute

blessing in disguise and I think Phil

you're a classic example of that and it

really is a unique community that you

get to be a part of with t1d so close it

up there I know you're a busy guy and we

wanted to thank you again as an

organization as gameplan t1d for all of

the work you're doing here and abroad to

improve the lives of diabetics and be an

inspiration for people living with t1d

so Phil thank you so much for coming on

the podcast yeah Sam thank you so much

for having me look forward to sharing it

with our community and now keep up the

great work because you you're you are

helping getting inspiring voices to

people we need to hear it and I think

you're doing great work I'm proud to

have you as part of the team as well my

name is Phil Sutherland I had type 1

diabetes and like all the champions here

before me I too have a game plan


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