Having recently announced a partnership between Team Novo Nordisk, the Atlanta-based professional cycling team whose members all have diabetes, and the Spanish bicycle manufacturer Orbea S. Coop Ltda, team co-founder Phil Southerland launched on Thursday, Nov. 14, a foundation to provide scholarships for collegiate athletes with diabetes.
The announcement on Nov. 14 coincided with World Diabetes Day, which was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization. The day was given official recognition by the United Nations in 2007 in view of the escalation of the disease worldwide.
Mr. Southerland co-founded Team Type 1 in 2004 during his senior year at the University of Georgia with his friend Joe Elderidge to promote type 1 diabetes awareness. Despite many of its members having diabetes, the team was so successful in amateur races that it turned professional in 2008 and has competed in high-level races around the world.
Since the beginning of this year, Mr. Southerland partnered with Novo Nordisk S/A, the global Danish company that since 1923 has been focused on preventing, treating and ultimately curing diabetes. Team Type 1 changed its name to Team Novo Nordisk, and all of its members have diabetes, thereby creating the first all-diabetes professional cycling team.
Earlier this month, Orbea S. Coop Ltda, which was founded in 1847 and is based in Mallabia, Spain, announced that it is partnering with Team Novo Nordisk as the bicycle sponsor for the team. The two companies also have agreed to work together to promote the partnership within the cycling community.
Team Novo Nordisk’s 2014 schedule includes major races in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The riders are to compete with Orbea Orca performance bicycles. “We are very excited to ride Orbea’s light and fast racing machines,” Mr. Southerland, who currently is the team’s CEO, said in a news release.
Mr. Southerland launched the Team Type 1 Foundation to reinforce the team’s educational mission. While he is to serve as the foundation’s president, his wife, Biljana, a medical doctor, is to serve as director of medical and governmental affairs.
Dr. Southerland is a former adviser to the Ministry of Health in Macedonia and the architect of Macedonia’s national diabetes program.
“More than 371 million people worldwide have diabetes and many are needlessly suffering from preventable complication or even death, simply because they do not have access to the medication or tools necessary to manage their condition,” she said.
The foundation is providing a scholarship program for collegiate athletes with type 1 diabetes who compete in a National Collegiate Athletic Association sport. In 2014, according to the announcement, the program will award up to seven scholarships of $5,000 each to help student athletes and their families offset the cost of diabetes care.
In developing countries, the foundation will work to duplicate the success of the Macedonian program, which covers the cost of insulin and glucose testing supplies for everyone in the country living with diabetes.
It already is working with government and health care officials to provide a long-term solution in Rwanda where diabetes is rampant and seven out of eight people with diabetes die before they are even diagnosed.
To learn more about the Team Type 1 Foundation, click here.