Team Type 1 was established with the mission to “instill hope and inspiration for people around the world affected by diabetes.”
Team Type 1 is funding scholarships in order to recognize young, talented athletes with Type 1 diabetes who demonstrate an ability to balance both academic and sporting commitments, promote good health with successful management of their diabetes through exercise, and support families already burdened with additional expenses associated with diabetes care.
Global Ambassador Video
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The selection process for applications is based on the following criteria:
- The applicant has Type 1 diabetes
- The applicant is a competitive athlete
- The applicant maintains a GPA of 3.0 or better
- The applicant wants to use their sports as a platform to inspire
- The applicant attends (or will attend) an accredited NCAA and NAIA institution
- The applicant continues to compete in an NCAA and NAIA sport
- The applicant commits to being available for at least two Team Type 1 speaking opportunities (at diabetes camps, conferences, or other events) to raise awareness about diabetes management and to inspire people with diabetes to better manage their diseas
Meet the Global Ambassadors
Hunter Sego is originally from Madison, IN and plays football as a first-year student at DePauw University. Prior to his diagnosis a month before his 8th birthday, Sego remembers a period of time where he was constantly thirsty, wetting the bed and feeling sick at school. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the hospital. The initial challenge he faced was fitting in with his peers. He compares his inability to eat like his classmates and constantly checking levels to having asthma: he felt it was taking him away from the things he loved to do.
Although he was afraid his diagnosis would keep him from playing football, the support from his coaches and doctors kept him going. He had a deal with his doctors: as long as he managed his diabetes, they would support his athletic dreams. Because he was always told to chase his dreams, he never saw his condition as an obstacle.
Similar to other athletes with type 1, Sego says diabetes taught him responsibility and self control. Since he managed his diabetes independently at home, his transition to a university setting hasn’t changed much. He has explained his condition to his coaches and roommates and because so many people have grown up knowing someone living with diabetes, he says his condition has never been an issue with his team.
Even before his involvement with TT1, Sego has been deeply rooted in increasing awareness for the type 1 community. Having gone to Congress multiple times to speak to U.S. representatives and senators, he has made news for type 1 diabetes with the passing of the Safe at School Act, or “Hunter’s Law,” a piece of legislation that now allows all students to carry and administer supplies wherever they are.
Sego hopes that with the continuous improvements in technology and resources, there will be more progress made in developing countries where access to medicine and diabetes education is lacking.
William Bridgeman is from Columbus, IN and currently plays soccer at Hanover College. Prior to his type 1 diagnosis at the age of nine, Bridgeman remembers being sick for a week. What felt like the stomach flu led to more serious care after he lost 20 pounds. He remembers having a strong urge to go swimming, which is a feeling many say they experience during diagnosis. At diagnosis, his blood sugar levels read higher than 1,000.
Playing soccer since he was 5 years old, Bridgeman was getting ready to start on a travel team when he was diagnosed. Despite his condition, he continued playing. He was also a Cub Scout, but decided to give it up to dedicate more time to managing his diabetes and playing soccer. Since Bridgeman’s doctor also lived with type 1 diabetes and played soccer, Bridgeman never felt limited by his condition. To him it was just one more thing he needed to manage.
The transition from parental support while living at home to an independent university setting was an adjustment, but Bridgeman had done it successfully. He advises all athletes with similar obstacles to continuously check their blood sugar and make the necessary corrections
Rather than looking at his condition as a challenge, Bridgeman looks at type 1 diabetes as something that has made him more responsible. Knowing he has accomplished this much with type 1 diabetes serves as reassurance that he can handle multiple things at once.
As part of the TT1 Global Ambassador Program, Bridgeman hopes to increase awareness for the lack of resources for people with type 1 diabetes in developing countries.
Daymon Blackport is from London, Ontario, Canada and currently plays soccer at Eastern Illinois University. Prior to his diagnose at the age of eight, Blackport remembers he was very thirsty and was drinking large volumes of water and his grandmother realized he had the classic “fruity” odor. He can still remember the doctor’s announcement “There is nothing to fuss about, the kid is clearly diabetic.”
Ever since he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age eight, Blackport was determined not to let the disease hinder his life mentally or physically. He had already been playing soccer for 4 years when he was diagnosed. As he got older, he says he found himself wanting to push his athletic soccer limits to see just how far he could go. In order to do this, he spent 2 years attending numerous university soccer ID camps and high quality tournaments throughout U.S. It was at one of these tournaments where Blackport was noticed and pursued by an NCAA Division 1 university.
Blackport, on the nutrition side of managing diabetes says: “I use the same nutrition plan as non-diabetic high level athletes which means a high carbohydrate, high protein, low fat diet. The high carbs give me the stored energy I need to compete for 90 minutes while the protein builds, maintains and repairs my muscles. The main foods I eat are beef, chicken, peanut butter, whole grain cereals and bread, yogurt, eggs, milk, potatoes, pasta, fish and various fruits and vegetables. I use my common sense in limiting my intake of processed foods and foods with sugar additives. Of course I always count carbs and test frequently.”
Peninah Benjamin is originally from Largo, FL and currently competes in sailing at Dartmouth College. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age of seven at the end of second grade. She remembers that her friends’ parents would have “special” sugar-free snacks just for her at birthday parties and sleepovers. She says she felt different. Today she lives with diabetes carefully managing her nutrition striving for a balanced diet but never feels that can’t have something because of diabetes.
The transition from parental support while living at home to an independent university setting was an adjustment, but Peninah balances studying, finals, road trips, sailing and social events well. She says. by the time she got to high school, she forgot what it was like to not have diabetes. She could not remember a day not waking up, checking her blood sugar, counting carbs, and taking insulin. “It is just another part of me, but not something that defines me. Just like I have to pack my bag for when we travel for sailing regattas, or pack my clothes, I never think twice about also having to pack my bag for diabetes supplies for the weekend.”
Peninah is actively involved in many diabetes organizations like JDRF and has volunteered for AYUDA for 4 summers - once in Equador and three times in the Dominican Republic. The summer after she was diagnosed, she and her family went to the Children with Diabetes where she met Olympic Ultra marathoner and TT1 Ambassador Missy Foy. Missy had proved her doctors wrong and challenged all the kids with type 1 diabetes to reach for the stars. “She was my role model or “Super Hero” to me and I want to be that person for other kids,” says Peninah.
Benjamin says that through Team Type 1 Foundation she has learned the importance of empowerment and mentorship. “Although I have been lucky to grow up with family, friends, and doctors who always believed in me, that is not always the case. The power of role models and mentors go a long way because they show what is possible, whether other people believe it or not. The foundation has taught the significance of fighting and standing up for what you believe in,” says Peninah.
Heather Kipniss is a TT1 local champion. She lives in Alpharetta, GA and currently plays golf at University of Tampa. Prior to her diagnose at the age of six, she remembers she felt scared. However, she has proudly displayed that she is not ashamed of this disease, but accepting that it is what she has to live with every day. She has never let diabetes impact her ability to compete in sports or in her commitment to do well at school.
Currently she goes to the gym 4-5 days days a week to make sure that her health and diabetes stay in tight control. She pays very close attention to carb counting with everything she eats to make sure she keeps her blood glucose in her ideal range of 80-120, at all times.
Kipniss has been exposed to numerous organizations that have been incredibly important to her. “Meeting Phil Southerland at Camp Kudzu’s Family Camp in the fall of 2005 changed my live forever. Not only did my experience as a camper for the next 10 years have a huge impact on my life, but the countless friends I have made through Camp Kudzu have helped me be a better contributor to the awareness of youth living with diabetes”, says Heather.
As a Global Ambassador for the Team Type 1 foundation she will continue to share her story and her efforts to manage diabetes, and to compete as a collegiate golfer at University of Tampa and maintain good grades along the way. “I am confident that I will make this great organization proud to further awareness of type 1 diabetes for student athletes like myself and everyone living with type 1 diabetes.”
Ryan Wancata is originally from Independence, Ohio and currently competes in baseball at University of Mount Union. Prior to his diagnose at the age of seven, Wancata remembers that he didn’t understand what was wrong with him. When he returned home from hospital and was heading back to school for the first time after the diagnosis, he asked his mom if the hospital would call the school when they had the cure.
During college, Wancata has an ambition to become a team captain. His academic goal is to obtain a degree in education, teach at the high school level and become a baseball coach. There have been several key individuals, both teachers and coaches, who have made a profound impact on him during high school. “Similarly, it is my hope to become a mentor for other young adults.
Ryan has never let type 1 diabetes interfere with his goals and he is welcoming the opportunity with the Team type 1 foundation to share that approach with individuals also living with this disease.
Ryan has maintained a leadership role throughout middle school and high school, both on the baseball field and the classroom. “Teammates and peers seem to enjoy my company and respect my judgement. I believe this is an asset that would carry over as a team Type 1 Global Ambassador”, says Wancata.
Delaney Miller is originally from Carlsbad, California and currently competes in cross-country at Princeton University. Prior to her diagnose at age four she remembers getting very sick and irritable and always being very thirsty. She also remembers how kind the nurses were in the Naval Hospital – they let her play with all of their toys. For a four year old this would be the world.
During college Delaney would like to improve her times in both track and cross-country, but more importantly to contribute to her team by scoring points at the Ivy League Championships in indoor and outdoor track. She would like to maintain her GPA and follow the necessary steps to attend graduate school for biomedical engineering so that she can pursue a career in the development of biomedical devices. “As a diabetic, I am inspired by the technologies that I use every day to help others who live with this chronic disease”, says Miller.
Instead of seeing diabetes as an obstacle to success, she views it as a challenge that can be overcome through self-discipline and balance. She recognizes that her diabetes management is paramount to her success as a student and an athlete. “By prioritizing my health, I find that I have more time and energy to support others. This approach, while far from perfect, has translated to my personal growth in the classroom and on the track, even beyond grades or race times. I believe that my philosophy and life experiences give me the necessary tools to be an impactful role model and ambassador for type 1 diabetic athletes everywhere”, says Miller.
Gabrielle Zegers is originally from Sacramento, California and currently competes in Saber Fencing at Duke University. Prior to her diagnosis at age five she remembers being very confused about what was happening to her and why. She says she was scared of needles and sometimes her parents would hold her keep her from running away in order to give her the insulin injection. After learning that she would always be getting injections and finger pricks, it became a little easier to handle them.
She hopes to earn her A rating in fencing. This is the highest letter rating that describes the competitive level of a fencer. She currently has a B rating in fencing. She desires to compete in additional world cups and the NCAA individual championships to become an All-American Athlete. Her academic goals are to get a double-degree in Global Health and Spanish, Masters in Global health, MD or nursing and work in Latin America in pediatrics, disaster relief, or infectious diseases.
“When someone has an autoimmune, chronic condition like diabetes, very few successes come easy. Every step towards a goal requires meticulous carb counting and insulin adjustments. When the end is reached the challenges make the result much sweeter, there is no better reward than what comes from hard work and determination. I believe I will be a respected Team Type 1 Global Ambassador because I have persevered through the challenges presented by diabetes, want to give back the knowledge I receive in college, and I have a dream for my future that I wish to attain”, says Gabrielle.
Casey Reece Harper is originally from Argule, Texas and currently competes in football at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to his diagnoses at age four, he remembers on their drive to his grandfather house they needed to stop over and over so he could go to the bathroom.
Casey is grateful to be on the football team at the University of Oklahoma and he will be working hard to secure his starting position as their fullback. He wants to get stronger and faster.
He has been an assisting coach for 5 years in his high school football program. He is very active in helping newly diagnosed kids at the school together with his mother they love to help them start their new life with type 1 diabetes. He preaches to all diabetics to stay active and healthy and to play a sport no matter what it is. Casey wants to change the face of type 1 diabetes to a strong, healthy, active face! “It’s all about healthy living”, says Harper.
Connor Short is originally from The Dalles, Oregon and plays football for Pacific University. Prior to his diagnosis less than one year ago he remembers never ending thirst, bathroom breaks and the forty pound weight loss.
His athletic ambition is to be All Northwest Conference his senior year of college, and then start to compete in triathlons. His academic goal is to graduate college magna cume lade with a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry. Connor currently volunteers in a local hospital.
Connor doesn’t let diabetes define who he is. Since being diagnosed in May of 2016 he has been able to maintain his academic success, take his athletics to another level, and, although not without challenges, have good control of his diabetes. While he was at the hospital he was told that he didn’t have to give up doing the things that he loves to do. Within a month after being discharged he was riding his bike for three miles. “I think that I understand the daily struggles others may encounter and can help them realize you can still be successful and achieve your dream, says Connor.”