1. Introduction to TT1 Foundation
Team Type 1 (TT1) Foundation was established with the mission to “instill hope and inspiration for people around the world affected by diabetes.” We believe that with appropriate diet, exercise, treatment and technology, anyone with diabetes can achieve their dreams. Founded in 2005 by Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge, TT1 operated as a grassroots initiative to inspire those with diabetes to better manage their disease.
Merging a passion for cycling and a mission to raise awareness, TT1 established the first men’s professional cycling team to include athletes with type 1 diabetes, which was built into a world-class cycling program and brought a global awareness like never before.
Although frustrating when someone says you can’t do something because you’re physically challenged, oftentimes this “can’t” spurs people to defy the odds and find a way to make it happen regardless. That was the case with Phil Southerland.
At just seven-months-old, Phil was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and doctors predicted he probably would not live beyond the age of twenty-five. But now in his 30s, he already has proved those predictions wrong. Instead, he has turned what was considered a death sentence into a global movement to radically change lives – the lives of people around the world affected by diabetes.
Phil recruited a team comprised of cyclists with diabetes, and together they participated in the demanding “Race Across America” in 2006. Not only did Team Type 1 gain prominence for its mission and perseverance with diabetes, but four times the team has won the event. Phil’s vision has come to life and he’s embracing it, with a passion for cycling while managing his diabetes to carry him through.
“I recognized how important exercise was for my diabetes management,” Phil says. “Exercise and diabetes simply go hand-in-hand.”
“Exercise is the billion dollar drug that never gets prescribed” -Phil Southerland
TT1’s impact has reached far beyond racing—the team is leading the charge in cutting-edge diabetes sports research, global outreach and education, and humanitarian initiatives in developing countries.
TT1 is transforming the way the world looks at diabetes, and the brand has become a global movement to demonstrate to the world that with proper education, care, and empowerment – anything is possible.
In 2011, TT1 met with leaders from the Macedonian government to promote healthy living with diabetes and necessity of medical supplies. The Ministry was funding the Diabetes camp where Phil Southerland was invited to give a speech. Dr. Biljana Southerland was attending both of his speeches at the University and at the Diabetes camp. She was beyond the words impressed how TT1’s athletes were living healthy lives, and achieving their ambitious goals in sports—managing the disease by checking blood-glucose a dozen times or more each day in order to stay in perfect health.
In his speech Phil was describing his excellent diabetes management measuring his blood sugar more then 15 times per a day in order to stay in perfect health and how it is controlled well for 30 years. Simply Phil’s story was powerful enough to change the lives of people with diabetes in Macedonia. The program was covering the insulin for everybody type 1 and type 2 people with diabetes, but not test strips or pumps. In two months Biljana convinced the Government that people with diabetes are work-capable and they deserve to have all the tools to stay in perfect health instead to pay for their dialysis and amputations. In two months the Macedonian Government adopt new program which was fully covering insulin, blood glucose monitoring strips, insulin pumps and Diabetes camp for all people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Since August 2012 adults with Type 1 diabetes are provided with government funding for college and master studies.
Biljana inspired Phil to know that global changing with providing a sustainable model for diabetes supplies for everybody with diabetes in the world is possible. Biljana is Phil’s wife now and they work together on providing best health care for people with diabetes through the Team Type 1 Foundation.
“Our goal with Team Type 1 is to ensure sustainable access to medicine and tools for all people with diabetes.”- Phil Southerland
A1C CHALLENGE – STRIVE FOR 6.5
2. TT1 Global Mission and Initiatives
TT1 is nonprofit organization pursuing a mission to provide education for people with diabetes about how to better manage diabetes; to fund college scholarships for athletes with Type 1 diabetes for their further education; to consult with governments and advocate for policy changes that will provide better health care for their population with diabetes; and to ensure access to medicine and tools around the world.
Therefore, TT1 will focus its efforts in three areas:
- Providing educational scholarships for young athletes with Type 1 diabetes, and having those athletes serve as spokespersons to further achieve TT1’s goals.
- Collaborating with governments by consulting with local, state and national health ministries, to ensure access to needed supplies (i.e., glucose monitoring devices, test strips, insulin injection devices, etc.), diabetes medications (both insulin and non-insulin) to all individuals with diabetes and education for health care professionals.
- Increasing public awareness of diabetes and its management to patients and health professionals worldwide through events where the students/athletes awarded with scholarships will share their stories with children and others affected by diabetes – showing them that living with diabetes doesn’t have to mean an early death or even an inactive life.
“A truly sustainable program must be rooted in the hearts of the people, and Team Type 1 has the unique ability to bring hope as we demonstrate what’s possible with the right tools to manage the disease. We will consult governmental officials what is the best way to provide medicines and tools for their citizen affected with diabetes and negotiate conditions with pharmaceutical companies.”
Always remember to Check and Correct!!
3. The Rwanda Project begins 2010
With rapid urbanization, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes quickly are becoming a priority for health programs within the region of Sub-Saharian Africa. Africa also has the highest proportion of undiagnosed diabetes (at least 78%), with diabetes causing an estimated 344,000 deaths in the region.
Although diabetes accounts for 6.1% of deaths from all causes annually, investment, research, and health systems have been slow to respond to this burden and remain focused primarily on infectious diseases. All told, Africa accounts for less than 1% of global healthcare expenditures due to diabetes.
In Africa, seven out of eight children with diabetes die from the disease before being diagnosed, which plays a significant role in the seemingly low prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in the region. Health care professionals desperately need training in diagnostics and tools needed for patients.
In Rwanda people with diabetes have a life expectancy of less then five years. Even those who are fortunate enough to live longer struggle every day to survive because of the lack of medical supplies.
Treatment: TT1 funded the supply and distribution of over 250,000 test strips across the country during the “Tour of Rwanda” professional cycling event. TT1 not only arrived with the aim of spreading awareness around Diabetes but brought with them hundreds of team jerseys, and blood glucose meters and test strips.
This year TT1 is providing diabetes supplies for Rwanda children again.
Consulting and education: CEO Phil Southerland and Biljana Southerland were seen interacting with children with Type 1 diabetes at a NCD event in Kigali, many who were already suffering from diabetes complications. Biljana and Phil Southerland had a great opportunity to meet representatives from the Rwandan Ministry of Health. “We hope to give children with diabetes a chance of quality life that they truly deserve." Mrs. Southerland was able to share with the Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of Health (2nd ranked person) her program in Macedonia, which fought to ensure all people with diabetes get the tools they need to prevent the horrific complications associated with diabetes. Change in government policy is the only way to sustainably change their lives she said.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health said that the prevalence of Type 1 diagnoses has increased by over 85 percent during the past two years, compared with just a 2–3 percent increase in the United States over that same period.
Last year during a screening exercise by the Team Type 1 during the Tour of Rwanda, the Rwandan Diabetes Association and the Ministry of Health diagnosed over 200 people with diabetes.
TT1 engaged health care professionals to educate people how to better manage their diabetes.
Inspiration: In 2012 a TT1 cyclist with diabetes won second place in one of the stages of the race. TT1 has utilized its unique position representing athletes with Type 1 diabetes to visit schools and hospitals and meet children who suffer Type 1 diabetes to show them that living with diabetes doesn’t have to mean an early death or even an inactive life. To the contrary, with proper treatment and management anything is possible – even becoming a professional athlete.
Why launch a pilot program in Rwanda?
TT1 attacks the problems that face those living with diabetes face on a daily basis, such as:
- Discrimination towards those who been diagnosed with diabetes
- Lack of access to medically-appropriate therapies
- Poor diabetes education, both among people living with diabetes, the healthcare professionals who treat them, and the general public
- Lack of governmental commitment to diabetes control and care.
Phil Southerland is the CEO and co-founder of Team Novo Nordisk and Founder and President of Team Type 1 Foundation. Team Novo Nordisk is a global sports organization home to more than 100 endurance athletes with diabetes, spearheaded by the worlds’ first all-diabetes professional cycling team.
Born in 1982 in Tallahassee, Florida (USA), Southerland was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just seven months old and doctors told his mother he was unlikely to live past the age of 25. Now 31, Southerland is a diabetes ambassador and thought leader, educating and empowering people throughout the world and driving a movement to redefine the boundaries for those living with diabetes.
He is also the author of the book “Not Dead Yet,” which chronicles his life from early diagnosis to his mission to change the face of diabetes on a global scale.
Southerland, a former professional cyclist, began racing at the age of 12. Never letting diabetes limit his aspirations, he climbed through the junior ranks and competed at the collegiate level for the University of Georgia.
In 2005 during his senior year, Southerland conceived an idea to combine his passion for cycling and his desire to inspire others with diabetes to live their lives to the fullest. Southerland and his best friend Joe Eldridge assembled a small group of athletes with diabetes they called Team Type 1 to compete in the grueling “Race Across America,” a 3,000 mile cross-country competition dubbed "America's Toughest Bike Race" to demonstrate on a national stage what athletes with diabetes were capable of. Within two years, Team Type 1 had not only won the fabled race, but went on to claim the title three more times and set the race record for the fastest trans-continental crossing at 5 days, 9 hours, and 3 minutes.
Southerland retired from racing in 2009 following an injury and became the organization's full-time CEO. Under his leadership, Team Type 1 rapidly grew from a grassroots awareness initiative to an international sports enterprise, attracting elite athletes with diabetes from around the world who competed at the highest levels of cycling, running, triathlon, mountain bike, and cyclocross.
In 2012, Southerland forged a groundbreaking partnership with global healthcare company Novo Nordisk and made history with the creation of the world's first all-diabetes professional cycling team. Now competing as Team Novo Nordisk, their goal is to reach the
Tour de France by 2021, the year which marks the 100th anniversary of the invention of insulin.
Southerland is a Board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and a faculty member of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Young Leader Program, International Diabetes Center (IDC) Rising Star Program and the International Forum for the Advancement of Diabetes Research and Care. He is also a World Health Organization appointee as Director of Health Care Policy, Planning and Patient Advocacy, WHO Collaborating Center, International Diabetes Center and Mayo Clinic.
He resides in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Dr. Biljana Southerland, who serves as Program Director, Medical and Governmental Affairs for the Team Type 1 Foundation.Always remember to Check and Correct.
Biljana Southerland, MD
Dr. Biljana Southerland is the Program Director of Medical and Governmental Affairs for the Team Type 1 Foundation and Chief Consultant for the World Health Organization, International Diabetes Center and Mayo Clinic. Her significant experience in shaping public health policy and working with governmental health agencies provides clear direction for the Foundation’s mission of achieving global access to medicine, education and empowerment for everyone affected by diabetes.
A native of Macedonia and former advisor to the Ministry of Health in her home country, Dr. Southerland served as Advisor for Hospital Affairs and Advisor for Health Care Management in the Cabinet of the Minister where she played an integral role in enacting dramatic change for diabetes care, creating a scalable model for public health policy that can be utilized in other countries. In 2010, she developed Macedonia’s National Diabetes Program, a groundbreaking initiative providing every resident living with diabetes free access to insulin.
In 2011, Dr. Southerland attended a medical conference on diabetes that featured a keynote address by Phil Southerland, founder and CEO of Team Type 1 (now Team Novo Nordisk), a team of endurance athletes with diabetes competing around the world at the highest levels of cycling, triathlon and running. Hearing the powerful story of what these athletes were able to achieve as a result of proper diabetes management – which included frequent testing of blood sugar levels of up to 15 times per day – Dr. Southerland was inspired to expand the Macedonian program.
Convincing the government to provide people with diabetes the tools to live healthy and productive lives instead of paying for the cost of hospitalization for chronic complications like dialysis and retinopathy which can occur as a result of inadequate diabetes m
anagement, Dr. Southerland facilitated the passing of one of the most progressive diabetes care policies in the world. Within two months, the government implemented a program to fully cover insulin, blood glucose monitoring strips and insulin pumps for all people in Macedonia living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The government now also covers tuition fees for college and masters studies for people with type 1 diabetes.
A graduate of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia as a Doctor of Medicine, Dr. Southerland is licensed for independent work in primary healthcare. Following graduation, she practiced in a clinic at the Department of Abdominal Surgery, providing both medical and surgical care in Macedonia. She is currently working on her Masters thesis in Health and Pharmaceutical management at the European University in Skopje, Macedonia. She speaks five languages.
Dr. Southerland resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Phil Southerland, CEO and co-founder of Team Novo Nordisk, a global sports organization home to more than 100 endurance athletes with diabetes, spearheaded by the worlds' first all-diabetes professional cycling team.