In 2021 (or even sooner),Team Novo Nordisk will be racing with the world’s best at the Tour de France, the most grueling cycling event in the world. That dream is just one of many that Team Novo Nordisk CEO and co-founder Phil Southerland has every day. Phil was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of seven months and has spent his life working as hard as he can to change the perception of diabetes around the world. He was told by doctors that he wouldn't be alive to see his thirtieth birthday; he was told by friends and competitors that he couldn't race at the collegiate level; and he was told time and time again that a cycling team made up soley of people living with diabetes wouldn't have a chance against the best in the world. Each and every time he heard “you can't,” he worked that much harder to prove the world wrong.
In 2005, believing it would be the best way to raise diabetes awareness, Phil took his passion for cycling and started a team made up exclusively of riders with diabetes. He didn’t just pay lip service to an idea, he worked hard to make his dream a reality. And it is this hard work that is what makes Phil Southerland such an inspiration for so many people living with diabetes. Phil will outwork anyone and get to the top of the podium by gritting his teeth and doing all that he can to win. Team Novo Nordisk is full of athletes that will work as hard as they can to win races and to also change the lives of people living with diabetes all over the world.
“Being a member of Team Novo Nordisk has given me a sense of purpose. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, my life goal of joining the Air Force became unattainable. There was a period when I felt very lost and I told no one, not even my best friend. It wasn’t until I heard about the team that my perspective completely changed. I realized that having diabetes wasn’t something to be ashamed of and most importantly it didn’t have to stop me from pursuing my goals. I worked with my healthcare team to develop a diabetes management plan that included training on the bike and got to work. Now, Team Novo Nordisk has given me the opportunity to realize my dream of being a professional cyclist and also the platform to share with others the same message that impacted my life in such a major way.”
From the pro team to the junior team, each and every member is honored to be part of such a great cycling team. Hamish Beadle, a member of the junior team, says:
“When I discovered the team at 10 years old, I was very excited and I aspired to become part of the professional team. It gave me hope that having diabetes did not have to mean the end to my dream of a professional cycling career. I worked with my doctor to build a diabetes management plan that included exercise and nutrition, to enable me to train on my bike. As a part of Team Novo Nordisk, I have been fortunate to travel to places like America and Spain not only to train and race, but to hopefully inspire people affected by diabetes.”
After talking to many Team Novo Nordisk members, I can tell that Phil Southerland is one of the most motivating men in sports today. When asked the question “What is one quality in Phil Southerland you most admire?”, the answers from team members show that not only do they respect Phil Southerland, but they look up to him like a father. With a smile on his face, Brais Dacal, a member of the development team, said:
“His capacity to make us believe. He overcame the adversity of being told he may not be able to have a normal life, which is incredibly inspiring, but he also makes me trust that I can overcome my challenges in life, too. I admire his power to positively impact the lives of others, to encourage them to turn their challenges into successes.”
Hamish Beadle answered with:
“The quality that I admire most is his ability to persevere in the face of adversity. Phil is a role model for people affected by diabetes worldwide. Team Novo Nordisk’s distinctive white kit is a symbol that life with diabetes doesn’t have to have barriers. On a personal level, I have found Phil to be down to earth, easy to talk to and someone I look up to.”
I personally believe that Team Novo Nordisk and Phil Southerland are the face of diabetes. “Phil, along with the other athletes on Team Novo Nordisk, have helped me to realize I can do great things in life. I've often had the perception that diabetes might hold me back, but now I have big expectations for my life. I have a positive attitude and I want to pursue my dreams wholeheartedly.” That quote by Brais Dacal says it all for me. Team Novo Nordisk is followed by millions of people because they teach everyone that anything is possible; that you can live your dream. It won't always be easy, but if you work to obtain your goal, nothing can stop you.
I would like to personally thank Phil Southerland for saving my life. When I was in a very bad place and was losing my fight against diabetes, seeing a YouTube video on Team Type 1 changed my outlook on my disease and more importantly, my life. Now, I love my life and I love diabetes because of Team Novo Nordisk and Phil Southerland. Each and every time I put on my Team Novo Nordisk apparel, I get chills! Looking at the Novo Nordisk logo gives me a sense that I'm not alone in my fight against diabetes.
I'm also very happy to say that I'm not the only person that has a second chance at life because of Team Novo Nordisk. I have received numerous emails from followers of my blog that read much like my story. They felt like they were alone in their fight against diabetes until they found Team Novo Nordisk.
To Phil Southerland and the members of Team Novo Nordisk, THANK YOU! You have millions of fans that believe in you and that are behind you one hundred percent. And I want to help in any way that I can to get you on the Champs-Elysees because you have helped so many to realize their dream of living a healthy and full life with diabetes!