In late 2015, Team Novo Nordisk’s men's professional squad and staff headed to Rosarita, Mexico to build houses for two families tragically impacted by diabetes and poverty. This unique training camp resonated throughout the season and everyone agreed it was essential to continue giving back.
This past week, Team Novo Nordisk built three houses in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic again for families affected by diabetes and poverty. In addition to the men’s professional team, this year’s service project included Team Novo Nordisk’s development team’s athletes and staff.
Team Novo Nordisk partnered with Hope Sports, a non-profit organization that promotes personal growth and community among athletes through short-term service projects. As a cohesive group, the athletes and staff worked together to build the homes from the ground up, including painting and furnishing the houses. All families received keys to their finished homes on Thursday afternoon.
Phil Southerland, Team Novo Nordisk CEO and cofounder
“For me, the biggest impact of this experience was the transformation of the child at our house. On the first day, he wouldn’t talk. When we went to the grocery store on the second day, he wouldn’t talk. You could tell life was very tough for him. You could see a lifetime of suffering on his face. However, when we returned to the home and handed over the keys, he smiled, and he felt proud. It was very clear from his expression that his life changed for the better,” Team Novo Nordisk CEO and cofounder Phil Southerland said. “This experience really provided me with perspective. Our team has unique challenges, but this reminded me of the positive challenges we get to tackle in the 2017 season and the priceless value of hope. We aim to provide hope to the millions around the world affected by diabetes, and I believe that sense of hope is as priceless as the hope we gave these families by providing them with houses.”
Vassili Davidenko, Team Novo Nordisk General Manager
“This experience changed the lives of these families, but for me, what resonated was the understanding that we can make a real difference. We really need to appreciate what we have and remember how we can help people,” Team Novo Nordisk General Manager Vassili Davidenko said. “We have a unique project where we inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes around the world. I believe this experience will continue to remind us of what is important and the opportunity and responsibility we have to the diabetes community and the world at large.”
Andrea Peron, Team Novo Nordisk professional rider
2017 will be his fifth professional season with Team Novo Nordisk
The emotions were the same for me between last year and this year’s home build. It is an emotional experience that makes you think differently about life. This is a powerful experience that remains with you. I think we get lost during the season, but I try to remind myself of these families and how challenging life can be for some people.
My favorite memory from this whole experience is it made me think differently. All year, we are all so focused on racing and this only took a few days, but we were able to help people. We all worked together and it made me see that this team and life in general is about more than just my goals and me.
This year, I was with the family where the father was in the hospital due to his diabetes. My hope is that after we gave the keys to this family that they can continue building upon this opportunity. They have a roof over their heads and a few months of food. But leaving like this is tough. It was hard for me to simply hand over the keys and leave after we made such an impact on their lives.
Umberto Poli, Team Novo Nordisk professional rider
2017 will be his debut season with Team Novo Nordisk
This was my first time doing any sort of service project or a home build, and it was my first time in the Dominican Republic. It made me appreciate what I have in life. Before this experience, I didn’t really realize or understand how lucky I am.
It also was my first time with the entire team, particularly all the pro men staff and riders. It felt like a big family. I really felt included, and I was surprised and impressed with how helpful everyone was. This motivated me to be engaged throughout the whole camp.
My favorite memory will definitely be the kids. They were always smiling, even though they were living in such poverty. I had never seen poverty like this before. While they had so little, they seemed so happy. For me, it was a great lesson to learn and remember what is important.
Bob Goedbloed, Team Novo Nordisk development team rider
2017 will be his second year with the development team
“I had never done anything like this before, and it was extraordinary. I’d seen things on TV, but here I was in the middle of it having kids climb on me and getting to smile and laugh together. It made it real. I was glad that we were able to help this community, but it felt like a small step. I want to do more things like this,” Team Novo Nordisk development rider Bob Goedbloed said. “For the team, it was a wonderful way to bond. We were all mixed together, including the staff, and it made it feel like a family.”
Family Update: From the 2015 home build, Guy East, Hope Sport’s CEO and founder, confirmed the family with two daughters living with type 1 diabetes continue to thrive and the family recently opened their own sandwich shop.