Meet Young & T1. An experiential learning and support group based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Young & T1 consists of young adults living with type 1 diabetes. This year, for the very first time, 14 fearless team members partnered with Team Diabetes to conquer the 2016 Tough Mudder Whistler and proved that type 1 diabetes isn’t an obstacle when it comes to being physically active.
We caught up with Nadine Cornelius, Team Diabetes coordinator, to find out more about their inspiring story.
What can you tell us about Team Diabetes and Young & T1?
Team Diabetes is the national activity-fundraising program of the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). We work to inspire people in communities across the country to get active, make healthy lifestyle choices and spread awareness for our cause. The CDA provides many programs and services for people living with diabetes, including D-Camps, which is the only national camping program for children and youth with type 1 diabetes.
What made you want to take part in a Tough Mudder for charity?
One member of Young & T1, Tyler Pearce, approached me last year and shared his story with me. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12 and thought he would never be able to take part in athletic events due to the challenges he had to face with wearing an insulin pump and keeping his blood sugars from going low when engaging in physical activity. Tyler is the Young & T1 Physical Activity Coordinator and has been working hard with this group, which has more than 200 members ages 18–34. Together, we came up with the idea to do a Tough Mudder because the event itself is such a great team building experience and Tyler thought the challenge would motivate and inspire others living with type 1 diabetes.
What is preparation and training like?Cr
It took even more preparation for our group because we knew we would’ve unique challenges on the course with keeping blood sugars in target, carrying insulin pumps through water and mud, and mitigating any medical emergencies that might arise from hypoglycemia. There was a lot of nervous energy as the distance itself was a first for most of us, never mind the looming obstacles that we had no idea how to overcome.
What kept you going during the toughest moments?
The amazing attitude of our team. Even when we were very cold, sore and afraid of some of the obstacles, we refused to get separated and kept to our routine. A few group members brought food in supply packs and we distributed it amongst the group as team members reported sugar lows. We even had other runners on the course come up to us and thank us for doing what we were doing—those are moments I think everyone on the team will remember with pride.
How does it feel completing Tough Mudder and raising funds and awareness for the Canadian Diabetes Association?
Amazing friendships were formed throughout the experience and the amount of personal gain was overwhelmingly apparent in every team member. As the Team Diabetes Coordinator, somebody not living with diabetes but extremely passionate about the cause, I had the opportunity to witness the added challenges my teammates had to overcome when trying to manage their blood sugars on top of everything else you deal with as a participant. I couldn’t be more inspired and proud of their incredible attitudes and support for each other.