Eric Tozer has a clear passion – to encourage people living with diabetes to achieve what may at times seem unachievable.
Just one month after competing in his first marathon, Eric found himself running 3,000 miles, coast-to-coast in just 15 days. Did we mention that he, along with his nine other teammates, all did this while living with diabetes?
Eric and the multi-sport team, Team Type 1, participated in the inaugural Run Across America, averaging over 24 miles per person each day, and made it on time for World Diabetes Day in New York City.
Eric is an ambassador for diabetes as well as a public speaker who strives to inspire people living with both Type 1 and Type 2 through his many athletic achievements. Today, you can find him frequently running in marathons and competing in Ironman triathlons.
Soon after competing with Team Type 1 (which is now known as Team Novo Nordisk), Eric became involved in the creation of the Diabetes Sports Project, which began with 11 diabetes ambassadors.
“These ambassadors demonstrate how through proper diet, exercise, a positive outlook and effective blood glucose management, dreams can be achieved,” Tozer said. “Everyone had that similar desire to use their accomplishments, not just showing you can do it but how to do it. Inspiration AND education. There is just this huge lack of information in athletics for those who have Type 1.”
The Diabetes Sports Project now has over 50 athletes from around the world, ages ranging from 10 to 48 years old.
“Our athletes are spread around the world and do outreach in their local communities,” Tozer said. “In May we are going up in Seattle. We’ll be spending half the day meeting families who are dealing with a new diagnosis.”
Donations to the Diabetes Sports Project go toward funding public speaking opportunities and other events for their athletes.
“The more people we can educate and inspire, the better,” Tozer said. “The more people we can get people comfortable in not letting Type 1 stand in their way, the better. The more stories we can showcase, the better. We grow as much as we can so we have as big of an impact as possible.”
When it comes to finding their athletes, Tozer says that it is usually the athletes who find them, although some are recommended by athletes already involved.
“At least once a day, someone asks to be a part of the team. The more stories we can showcase, the more people might find a point of inspiration. Everyone we bring into the family can inspire someone else. It’s important to know you aren’t alone, so being a part of a team is pretty special.”
Although Tozer is careful to emphasize that the Diabetes Sports Project do not offer medical advice, they do provide training plans and other kinds of mentorship to their new athletes.
While the Diabetes Sports Project is full of people who are highly skilled and talented when it comes to athleticism, Tozer believes that there is always room for mistakes and to learn and better yourself as an athlete living with Type 1.
He recalls a recent incident where he forgot to adjust his Dexcom “low” settings during a race.
“By the time I got the alert, I was already too low,” Tozer said. “My reading was 71 with arrows down and I felt terrible. It was frustrating because it was something avoidable. But I missed my target because it was something I just blanked on.”
“It was a good learning opportunity,” he added. “I tell kids not to see something like that as a failure, but to learn from it. We need to give ourselves more credit. There are so many victories throughout the day. This disease is hard to manage.”