Racing to Cure Diabetes...
Phil Southerland, co-founder of Team Type 1, which was created in
2004 to inspire people living with Diabetes to take a proactive
approach to managing their health and overcoming the obstacles
often associated with the condition.
For the better part of his lifetime, Phil Southerland has made a
habit of defying the odds.
When he was seven months old, he came down with what doctors first
diagnosed as a routine case of baby flu. But after losing more than
half of his body weight to the illness, his mother Joanna suspected
something far more serious was wrong.
Violently ill and with perhaps only days to live, doctors diagnosed
Southerland with Juvenile Diabetes. They told his mother that the
condition would likely cost him his eyesight by the time he was
Those doctors should see him now.
Only 26 years old, Southerland already counts among his
achievements the founding of Team Type 1 – the world’s first
professional cycling team dedicated to raising awareness for Type 1
Diabetes – and a pair of victories for the team in the Race Across
America (RAAM). His accomplishments and desire to help others with
Diabetes have led to dozens of national engagements as a
Cycling is his first love, though. A competitor since the age of
13, he co-founded Team Type 1 in 2005 with Joe Eldridge after the
two met while racing against each other in college. Their intent –
to create a cycling team made up solely of athletes with Type 1
Diabetes – first raced RAAM in 2006. The result was a victory in
their division and the second fastest overall crossing, completing
the more than 3,000-mile race in 5 days, 16 hours and 4 minutes.
Last year, Team Type 1 did it again, winning its RAAM division
while completing the transcontinental race faster than anyone else:
5 days, 15 hours and 43 minutes.
Southerland says living with Type 1 Diabetes allows him to be “the
CEO” of his own body, while creating a long-term plan for success.
“I have met some amazing people because I have diabetes,” he says.
His long-term goals include getting Team Type 1 a spot in the Tour
de France by 2012 and an entire Team of Type 1 pro cyclists in the
Tour not long thereafter.
Ever the visionary, Phil would like to “see a group health
insurance plan for people with Diabetes, so we can all have the
tools necessary to prevent complications.”