JDRF TypeOneNation Summit in San Diego

I attended my first JDRF TypeOneNation Summit since moving to San Diego and had SO MUCH FUN!

My father-in-law and I spent countless hours watching boxing together over the past 20 years, so I was excited when I realized who walked in the room to kick things off.

None other than former pro boxing IBF World Champion, Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden! He’s been supporting JDRF since 2004 and was elected as the San Diego Board President in 2018

JDRF facilitated tours of the diabetes lab at the institute. My favorite station was the microscopy station, where we learned about the complexity and how much there is left to learn about how and why the immune system attacks our beta cells. 

Did you know that the ability to look at and test with living pancreatic tissue has only been around for about five years? And until just recently, it was only possible to keep those samples alive and run tests for about one day? That’s not enough time to figure out very much! 

Thankfully, now technology and science have advanced to a point where living insulin-producing tissue can be kept alive, tested on, and accurately viewed for about one week. That’s better, but still not very much time.

Is it just me, or have you also assumed that type of thing was already possible and had been happening for a long time? 

That’s why I find these events essential and exciting. They calibrate my expectations and remind me of just how complicated the puzzle of diabetes is.

The next station was handing out new pancreases, though, which was pretty cool.

nPOD Stress Pancreas

Then I bumped into an old friend from waaaay back in the day who I didn’t even know lived in San Diego! First time actually ever meeting in real life, by the way.

Just before lunch, I enjoyed Matt from FTF Warrior & Pardon my Pancreas talking about metabolism, nutrition, and fitness.

The closing keynote was terrific. Eric Tozer talked about running the World Marathon Challenge® – seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Yes, really. 

Eric running in the foreground, the team plane in the background

Eric talked about the crazy schedule, and wacky timezones, and jumping from hot to cold and back again, and that the flights between countries being the only time they had to rest, recover, sleep, and eat anything. 

What stuck with me the most was Eric emphasizing that mental strength was such a significant component in a challenge like this. He said living with diabetes was an asset there. And it’s the same for all of us.

With diabetes, there is no quit. It’s not an option. When our mind, emotions, or even our bodies start jabbing at us with negativity, we have to figure a way through it. There is no other option. 

It reminded me just how strong and able I am. And so are you.

Eric, Lorraine, Stephanie, Scott with Lorraine and Stephanie holding Eric's race medals.
Eric, Lorraine, Stephanie, Scott
and all of Eric’s medals!

Visiting Team Novo Nordisk

Heroes for people with diabetes

Just before the holidays, I attended Team Novo Nordisk’s (TNN) media day at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, GA. (Disclosure: Team Novo Nordisk paid for my travel, lodging, and some meals)

I got a close look at the scale of Team Novo Nordisk’s vision, mission, and even got to ride alongside some of the athletes (I had to ride in a car to keep up). It was impressive, inspiring, and educational.

Large group of Team Novo Nordisk pro cyclists

Some of Team Novo Nordisk’s Pro Team – ©Jordan Haggard

Team Novo Nordisk has nearly 100 athletes with diabetes from 21 countries spanning a number of sports (cyclists, triathletes, and runners) in a few phases of athletic development. One remarkable point in the story of many of these athletes is the story of being told “no.”

Twelve out of eighteen of the pro riders were told they’d never race again because of diabetes. Imagine receiving that crushing news along with the diagnosis? Racing was everything for these guys! And with a single sentence, their dreams were smashed. Thank goodness they didn’t give up so easily. And now, thanks to TNN, they are shining examples of what can be done with diabetes.

Some of Team Novo Nordisk on a panel ready to share information and answer questions

Panel presentation / Q&A with Phil Southerland, Dr. Mark Greve, Stephen Clancy, Fabio Calabria, Quentin Valognes, and Sam Brand – ©Jordan Haggard

The mission of Team Novo Nordisk is to inspire, educate, and empower people affected by diabetes. They’re attacking this mission on many fronts and changing diabetes for the better in a lot of ways.

Some ways are really big, such as being the first all-diabetes professional team in any sport worldwide (that’s something often overlooked, but this great interview with Phil Southerland in diaTribe points out). And some ways aren’t immediately noticeable, like an aspiring athlete being told, “no” only to find TNN proving a resounding “yes!”

Phil Southerland and Martin Nordmark talking about TNN

Martin Nordmark, Sr. Global Project Manager, Novo Nordisk, sharing his experiences with the team – ©Jordan Haggard

Panel of Team Novo Nordisk cyclists with Quentin speaking into a microphone

Quentin Valognes telling his story – ©Jordan Haggard

One of the things I most admire about Team Novo Nordisk is they continue to go above and beyond. What do I mean by that? I’m not a professional athlete, but I can imagine it’s already immensely challenging to compete at this level. But that’s not all they do. In 2016, Team Novo Nordisk published/shared more than 1,800 articles and participated in more than 365 diabetes related community events around the world to help set the record straight about diabetes. Nearly everywhere they go, they take time out of their grueling athletic schedule (and travel schedule!) to talk with the community and spread information.

A selfie with Scott Johnson and Quentin Valognes

I chatted with Quentin Valognes during one of the breaks.

Team Novo Nordisk is doing a lot of work on language and stigma in diabetes, and one of the stories I remember most fondly was told at a community event last June in New Orleans. It’s a very real example that sticks in my head as one that makes a big difference in how we are perceived.

The story is that one year, the famous television cycling commentators spoke of a TNN cyclist as suffering from diabetes (that’s one of my big pet peeves – “suffering“). After long efforts of patient and persistent relationship building, Team Novo Nordisk was able to teach the commentators more about diabetes – they were able to set the record straight. The next time the commentators talked about a rider with diabetes, the language was different. Suffering was gone, and instead, that rider lived with type 1 diabetes.

Scott and Oliver facing each other talking

Talking with Oliver Behringer during one of the breaks – ©Jordan Haggard

These may sound like little things, but I tell you, they make a difference to people who don’t know anything about diabetes. Just think about the difference between “living with” and “suffer.” There’s a huge difference there, right? There is to me, and I know which one I prefer.

Oliver Behringer doing a wheelie for the camera

Oliver Behringer playing/posing for pics – ©Jordan Haggard

The guys riding up to pose for a group picture – ©Jordan Haggard

Team Novo Nordisk and guests at Stone Mountain Atlanta – ©Jordan Haggard

The commitment to Team Novo Nordisk’s mission is remarkable and was something my friend Brian mentioned a number of times as we took in all of the information over the day.

And they’re always looking for more athletes – Phil even made a special call-out for more U.S. talent!

Click above to learn more about joining Team Novo Nordisk

The Diabetes UnConference – February 2017

See you in Vegas, baby!

Group photo - The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

Register Now

Don’t miss it – register now – the deadline is January 24th!

From the official website:

What is it?

At The Diabetes UnConference, every participant is an expert. All attendees can ask and answer questions and learn from their peers in a safe setting where there is no judgment or wrong answer. Topics may include: diabetes burnout, depression, sex, discrimination, financial issues, getting inspired to exercise, family, or even what the best treatment for hypoglycemia is for each person.

Who’s it for?

This conference welcomes all adults with diabetes. The Diabetes UnConference is the only multi-day conference that welcomes all male and female adults with diabetes to share their thoughts and feelings. (and PLUs – more info…)

What to expect?

As the agenda is created by the attendees leading up to the conference, so expect the unexpected! That being said, expect that you’ll be surrounded by those who understand how you feel about living with diabetes (or a loved one with diabetes). Expect to feel safe and not judged for expressing your feelings and thoughts. Expect to meet people who will become confidants and friends. Expect to not feel alone. Expect to leave with new knowledge and ideas for living a healthy life with diabetes. And of course, expect to have fun.

The Diabetes UnConference

As you can see, it’s not your typical conference.

Why is it important?

I believe that your story matters. You bring an important perspective and experience to life with diabetes. Your voice may be exactly what someone needs to hear. Likewise, exposing yourself to the voices and stories of others with diabetes might trigger something big for you.

The Diabetes UnConference is a powerful place for such things. I participated for the first time in 2015 and can’t stop thinking about the quick bonds that were made, the safe environment to share (or just listen), and the walls of diabetes isolation crumbling apart around us.

You could talk about your fears, your joys, shed your tears, or burst out laughing …

Men being men

The men’s discussion group from the first Diabetes UnConference is one of my most treasured memories. We had a very real and safe (what happens there stays there) bunch of discussions with other guys living with diabetes. I didn’t know what to expect… there was a big chance that there’d be too much bravado in the room for meaningful conversation. All it takes is one guy puffing his chest to make the rest unwilling to open up.

But what happened was very special. One by one, guys started talking about stuff they needed to share and asking questions they needed to ask. Not one bit of snark or sarcasm or even looking at each other funny. Just a protective circle of understanding and open ears.

Make this your year

If you’ve attended in the past, thank you. You’ve improved my life and helped me see diabetes with more perspective than before. If you’ve not yet attended, maybe this is the one you decide to join? Everyone is welcome and I’d love to meet you. Register now (deadline is January 24th)

Register Now

Here are a few posts from others who’ve attended in the past:

Diabetes UnConference Hits the Atlantic City Boardwalk
The Diabetes UnConference: The power of peer support
My Take On The Diabetes UnConference
Joe from Germany Comest to the Diabetes UnConference
My UnConference Experience
And more…


Disclosure: I am not compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. for my time or energy working The Diabetes UnConference events, nor do I earn anything for registrations. My travel, lodging, and some meals are paid for, but I am not otherwise compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. I enjoy these events and it’s an honor to represent myself, Scott’s Diabetes, and mySugr to serve and help The Diabetes Collective, Inc. when requested.

Sugar Surfing comes to Minneapolis

A workshop with Dr. Stephen Ponder

Dr. Stephen Ponder is a pediatric endocrinologist and certified diabetes educator with Scott and White Healthcare in Temple, Tx. He’s lived with type 1 diabetes since March of 1966 and has been a pioneering force in diabetes telehealth and remote care for many years.

Dr. Stephen Ponder

One of his latest projects is Sugar Surfing, a modern approach to managing diabetes.

Sugar Surfing Book

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

The book was recently published and has been well received so far. Local PWD and social media superstar Allison Nimlos has worked with Dr. Ponder to bring his Sugar Surfing workshop to Minneapolis in September!

I just registered (cost is $10), and want to spread the word. I’d love to welcome Dr. Ponder to Minneapolis with a packed house. Can you come? It’s happening on September 24th, 2016, 12:30 pm (workshop runs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, at Open Book.

If you’re nearby and interested, please register and share! Space is limited, so don’t delay!

Register Now!

Diabetes Empowerment Foundation unveiled at SWD 2015

Last weekend the 5th annual Students With Diabetes™ conference took place in Tampa, FL.

Group shot from the 2015 Students with Diabetes Conference

It has become a must-attend event for young adults (age 18-30) with type 1 diabetes. Coming together from more than 103 cities across the nation, these powerful young adults learn, connect and empower one another to pursue success and achievement in life, despite the extra work diabetes puts on their plates. (more…)

Riding on Insulin – You Betcha!

Winter Sports Camps for Kids & Teens Living with Type 1 Diabetes

It’s a midwest mashup of Riding on Insulin events over the next couple of months, including a Family Day right here in Minnesota! There is a Family Day here at Afton Alps on March 7th, 2015.

Riding on Insulin Midwest Camps

There are fundraising and full scholarship opportunities to help with registration costs, if necessary.

The DSMA Team spoke to Sean & Mollie back in May of 2013.

P.S. – Sean and Mollie Busby live in the same small city in Montana (population ~ 6,600) that my aunt and uncle do! What are the chances? I love how small the world is sometimes. 🙂

Free Diabetes Driving Clinic for Teens – Chicago, IL – 9/27/14

A sign that says "Check Before You Drive!"

Check Before You Drive!

I’m happy to announce that Juvenile Diabetes No Limits is heading back down to the Chicago area for another free driving clinic for teens with diabetes.

This 1-day program is open to teens with diabetes ages 15-19 with a valid permit or drivers license. If space permits, 14 and 15-year-olds can take part and learn (they can ride along, usually, but can’t do the behind the wheel exercises).

The instructors have backgrounds in the auto industry, motorsports, advanced racing/driving schools, and high-threat driver training for the military and law enforcement, and more. Sounds like an amazing opportunity to me!

Space is filling up fast for the September 27th class! There are only about 8 spots left – so register today if you’re interested!

You can learn more about the program and free registration at Juvenile Diabetes No Limits.