Dexcom U: Inspiring Young Athletes After a Diabetes Diagnosis
Dexcom and Division I college athletes have teamed up to encourage other people living with diabetes to fully participate in sports.
When faced with a diabetes diagnosis, many children and young adults are faced with rethinking their participation in sports and activities. According to research conducted by Dexcom, 43% of adults with type 1 diabetes wanted to quit their participation in sports and physical activities after their diagnosis.
The same study also found that nearly half (48%) of adults with type 1 diabetes and parents of children with diabetes believe being aware of a professional or top amateur athlete or celebrity with type 1 diabetes might be beneficial for a newly diagnosed individual.
In response in October 2022, Dexcom launched Dexcom U, a paid partnership program with college athletes across the country that aims to offer both greater representation for people with diabetes in athletics as well as inspiration for athletes with diabetes.
Bryce Frederick, a Division I baseball player, Towson University senior, and member of the first roster of college athletes to form partnerships with Dexcom through Dexcom U, reflected on his diagnosis four years ago at age 17, which happened as a result of routine blood work.
“When my doctor told me, I kind of laughed and didn’t believe it,” Frederick said, adding, “It was really the luck of the draw. They had found I had the antibodies for type 1 diabetes, but the process [of the immune system attacking insulin-producing cells] had just started, so I did not [yet] have to start covering insulin for meals.”
For Frederick, having a support network and being inspired by other professional athletes who had type 1 diabetes made a huge difference after his diagnosis.
“Nobody in my family had diabetes, but my trainer happened to also have type 1, so he was able to point me towards some helpful resources,” he said. “Once I was diagnosed, I looked up other athletes to see who had been there as well in the past. Seeing guys like Sam Fuld (former MLB outfielder and Phillies general manager), Jordan Hicks (MLB pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals), and Mark Andrews (NFL tight end for the Baltimore Ravens) made my diabetes feel more acceptable in the world of competitive sports.”
Frederick hopes that as part of Dexcom U he can help inspire other young athletes by showing that a diabetes diagnosis does not have to be limiting, especially with the proper support.
“I knew that it wasn’t my fault or that I couldn’t have done anything to prevent [my diagnosis],” he said. “When I went to my family, friends, and people who supported me, I knew that my goals were still accomplishable.”
Frederick hopes that young athletes and their parents continue to stay involved with athletics, even when a diabetes diagnosis can make things feel out of control.
“The only constant in life is change,” he said. “When I look at my life over the last four years with my diagnosis, that’s what it’s been. After my diagnosis, I felt there was light at the end of the tunnel for me. I have so much respect for the kids who are diagnosed early in life and to the people who mentor and care for them. I think they inspire me more than I have the opportunity to inspire them, It may be harder, but there’s power in vulnerability, there’s power in saying ‘I don’t have it all figured out.’”
Dexcom, which said that it has received an excellent response to the program, is already thinking about its next class of Dexcom U athletes. “This is just the beginning for Dexcom U,” a spokesperson said, adding, “We look forward to adding new athletes each year and exploring new extensions moving forward.”
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