Phil Southerland was THE first type 1 athlete that I encountered after Caleb’s diagnosis. It started with a video, then a magazine article and then I scoured the internet looking for any information I could find on him.
I have always been and continue to be in awe of athletes with diabetes. I have the greatest admiration and respect for their commitment, discipline and achievement. What they do is the equivalent of magic to me.
The week before FFL, Colin completed a week of triathlete camp with Cliff Scherb. It was hard to know which one of the five of us was most excited to meet the co-founders of Team Type 1. It was definitely at the top of all our lists.
On the first day of the conference, we attended a Team Type 1 focus group and got to listen to three team members, including Joe Eldridge, talk about their experiences. I’ve read his story so many times – about the wager between him and Phil of whomever had the higher blood sugar at the end of a race would have to buy the other dinner, and how Joe ended up buying a lot of burritos. Hearing how that motivated him to keep tighter control of his blood sugars live and in person was just as inspiring as the first time I read it.
Then we got to speak to them up close and personal. It was like talking with friends. They are such real and genuine young men. So kind, so sincere. I had brought my copy of Not Dead Yet on the trip thinking I might have some spare time to read. Well that didn’t happen, but I’m so glad I brought it because Phil so graciously signed it for Caleb. A definite highlight for us all.
I was happy to have the chance to thank them for the impact they have had on us. It is because of them – Phil and Joe, the first type 1 athletes that I came across – that I have never wondered about Caleb’s ability to achieve athletically. Their impact is so strong, that I’ve almost taken it for granted. It’s completely natural to me to expect that Caleb can do any sport he wants to. They, and so many after them, have shown all of us that there are no limits to what someone can attain, including someone living with type 1 diabetes. I have always known this for a fact.
Because of them.
More importantly, Caleb knows this. He never, ever considers whether diabetes will impact his ability to play or complete. He knows that he can do whatever he chooses. He knows he needs to care for his diabetes which means he needs to do things his teammates do not, but having it hold him back from doing what he enjoys is never something that enters his mind.
Team Type 1 has been and will always be a part of our lives. We’ve met so many great role models. They are examples for Caleb, as a type 1 diabetic, and Colin, as an aspiring triathlete. Thank you Phil and Joe and Cliff and Bradford for reaching out and sharing yourselves so openly with us.
Not only are these guys all amazing athletes, they are truly amazing people. I am so very honored and privileged to have had the chance to meet them. We all are.
If you haven’t seen the video, One Shot, the documentary of Phil and Joe and the team and their quest to get the first type 1 diabetic into the Tour de France, I strongly encourage you to.
When they are in the tour, we will definitely be watching and rooting for Team Type 1.