“Team Type 1’s mission overlaps seamlessly with Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” Team Type 1 Foundation Founder and President Phil Southerland said. “We are honored to be a part of Microsoft’s Hackathon and are heading to their headquarters in Redmond, Washington with the goal of leveraging technology and digitally transforming and improving the lives of athletes with diabetes.”
In its fourth year, the Hackathon brings Microsoft employees together to create, innovate and hack on ideas that inspire them. Behind the “Diabetes What’s Possible” project is a 25-member Microsoft team that is part of the Ability Hack led by Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie. The Ability Hack brings together engineers, designers, and other tech pros to work alongside people with disabilities both inside and outside Microsoft, and other accessibility advocates to create products and services that empower people.
In 2005, the Team Type 1 Foundation was founded on the combined passion of cycling and the mission to instill hope and provide inspiration for people around the world affected by diabetes. Southerland was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just seven months old and doctors told his mother he was unlikely to live past the age of 25. Over the past 12 years, the Team Type 1 Foundation has led the charge in cutting-edge diabetes sports research, global outreach and education, and humanitarian initiatives to change the face of diabetes on a global scale.
The relationship between the Team Type 1 Foundation and Microsoft arose organically – Southerland met Microsoft SMSG Accessibility Lead Matthew Mack during the Tour of California in 2016. Both rode multiple stages ahead of the pros and started talking about the technical challenges people with diabetes face during sports. After reconnecting this year, Mack was inspired to create an Ability Hack project that tackled these challenges.
“Meeting Phil Southerland opened my eyes to the adversity people with diabetes face when it comes to exercise and competition. I am a passionate cyclist and have been around people with diabetes my entire life, but I had never considered the dangers of exercise that someone with type 1 diabetes has to manage every day to follow their dreams,” Diabetes What’s Possible project lead Mack said. “The energy and passion of Team Type 1 are both inspiring and humbling. I am hopeful that our hack can help both Team Type 1 and others living with diabetes.”
With 1.2 billion people directly impacted by diabetes on a daily basis, exploring how technology, big data, and machine learning can improve the lives of people with diabetes rises to Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith’s executive challenge to demonstrate new ways for Microsoft talent and technology to help solve the world’s greatest societal problems. For Southerland, he’s recognized the relationship between diabetes management, exercise, and technology for decades.
“Since I was a child, I’ve recognized that exercise and diabetes go hand-in-hand. I found my love for the bike because I wanted to eat a candy bar without having to check my blood sugar or take injections. It was liberating to simply ride,” 35-year-old Southerland said. “When I added in technology to that equation through the form of a continuous glucose monitor, it enhanced my relationship with the bike and redefined my career and life path.”
In 2006, Southerland assembled a group of eight cyclists with type 1 diabetes to participate in the 3,000-mile Race Across America, which served as the first time he wore a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Athletes with diabetes need to check their glucose levels constantly and make adjustments to ensure they stay within a target range. Before the advancements in CGM technology, frequent glucose monitoring wasn’t possible on the bike.
“I learned more in my first race with a CGM than I’d learned in the previous 24 years of living with diabetes. Just having access to this information was empowering in our ability to manage our diabetes, which translated into a stronger performance on the bike,” Southerland said. “Technology is essential for athletes with diabetes to reach their maximum potential.”
The goal of the Diabetes What’s Possible project is to leverage cloud technology, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IOT) to address the challenges faced by TT1 today.
“In today’s millennial generation, creating meaningful, constant connections can make a real difference. We aim to design a platform that seamlessly combines current devices and allows for sustained and intelligent access to information,” Southerland said. “This could end up not only being a game changer for athletes with diabetes but an actual life changer.”
Want to show your support for Team Type 1 and Microsoft on this groundbreaking project to level the playing field for athletes with diabetes? On Friday, July 21st, the Diabetes What’s Possible Hackathon team will kick off with two global Zwift events. For the 2:10pm EDT ride, click here. For the 10:00pm EDT ride, click here.
ABOUT TEAM TYPE 1 FOUNDATION
Established in 2005, the Team Type 1 Foundation is a nonprofit organization pursuing a mission of education, empowerment and equal access to medicine for everyone affected by diabetes. Collaborating with governments, healthcare professionals, diabetesexperts and individuals living with diabetes around the world, the Team Type 1 Foundation is bridging the gap to access and education through sustainable and economically viable solutions. The Team Type 1 Foundation provides college scholarships to athletes with type 1 diabetes. Since 2014, 165 scholarships totaling $256,000 were awarded to college athletes who compete in an NCAA or NAIA sport with type 1 diabetes. For more information, visit: www.teamtype1.org.