Team Type 1 takes on Tour of California for type 1 diabetes research

Some of the bicyclists on Team Type 1 take hormone injections as they ride but these are not performance-enhancing steroids - they are insulin shots to help the athletes with type 1 diabetes maintain normal blood glucose levels as they compete.

A recent article published in the Tucson Citizen highlighted the accomplishments of this group and their mission to inspire kids with type 1 diabetes to partake in sports despite the challenges that their disease may present.

According to the newspaper, eight out of the 20 riders on Team Type 1 have diabetes.

“The first year we were racing on the professional scene, guys were still hiding their needles. I said, ‘You don’t have to hide it. This is what we have to do to live,'" said Phil Southerland, founder and CEO of the athletic organization, quoted by the news provider.

One of the diabetic team members, Javier Megias Leal, will undergo regular blood glucose testing throughout the Tour of California race, and his results will be sent to researchers who will use the information to learn more about how type 1 diabetes affects individuals during exercise.

Southerland and co-founder Joe Eldridge, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10, told the news source that they wanted to bring awareness to diabetes through athletic events in the same way that Lance Armstrong did for cancer. The pair also said that they want to prove to kids who have the disease that they can do anything that their healthy peers can.

Team member Alex Bowden explained to the Tucson Citizen that he joined Team Type 1 after going through a "rebellious stage" in his teenage years, during which he neglected to control his type 1 diabetes through regular blood sugar tests.

Although more than 25 million Americans have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association reports that only 5 percent of these individuals have type 1 diabetes.