Q+A with a T1D family on a mission to empower type one athletes

Featured Podcast Episode
July 16, 2024

Motivated by their active father and son T1D duo, the Hill family spent the last two years designing and testing a prototype for a performance wear top designed specifically for diabetic athletes. This athletic shirt is designed to securely hold an insulin pump in a spot that is proven to be the safest spot for physical sports. After years of testing fabrics and designs, the Hills are excited to finally have a product they are proud of and that has their T1D son Luke's stamp of approval.   

The company, Warrior Hill, is on a mission to empower T1D athletes by providing them the support they need to thrive in their sports. They aim to help athletes manage their diabetes seamlessly, allowing them to focus on their training and competition, while living a healthy and active lifestyle. More importantly it is their mission to find a cure, which is why they are committed to donating 50% of their profits back to diabetes research.

Read on for a Q+A with the Hill family! 

Aaron (father) and Luke (son)

Q) Tell us about who you are beyond diabetes - hobbies, activities, interests, career, etc!
I work as a Police Officer training other members on firearms and use of force. My hobbies are cycling, coaching soccer, and recently a pickle ball enthusiast.
Luke: I like to play soccer and basketball. I like playing video games and learn about coding. I’m also interested in Astronomy.

2.) What was your diagnosis like? What stage of life were you in and how did it change you?
 I was in the pinnacle of my policing career, part of an emergency response team in one of the more physical roles. It was unexpected, I lost 25lbs in a very short amount of time. I was lethargic, weak and could not quench my thirst. I was 38 years old, so diagnosed a little later in life, but my sister was diagnosed at 10 years old, so we have a family history of diabetes. I was very thankful to have her support as it was quite overwhelming. I found it hard to eat at first. I was scared to eat too many carbs and I was quite anxious to go to work in the fear I would go low during high-risk police work.
Luke: It wasn’t too traumatic because my parents caught it very early, my dad is a T1D so he recognized the signs. I remember being very tired and thirsty. I was 10 years old, and I was scared at first. I was nervous to go to school to have the teachers help me with my injections.

3.) What has been your biggest T1D challenge?
 My biggest challenge was when my son Luke was diagnosed just knowing how tough this disease can be and what he’s having to endure.
Luke: I would say playing sports. It was hard to play sports and wear my pump but also hard managing your meals and insulin before you play. The pregame boluses and post-game BG crashes can be tricky, but we’ve gotten a lot better at it and the shirt we designed helps keep my pump in place while I play.

4.) What has been a lesson you've learned through navigating T1D?
 I’ve become way more educated on nutrition and how my body reacts to carbs, fats, and proteins.
Pay attention to your body. Stop whatever you’re doing if you feel low and test.

5.) Type 1 diabetes usually gives “rise” a bad reputation (ex. rise in A1C, rise in a CGM graph,) but we are all about helping people reclaim their rise; to rise above their diagnosis, to rise beyond their limitations, to rise above a number. Can you tell us about a time that you reclaimed your rise with type 1 diabetes?
 I think when Luke was diagnosed it helped me take control of managing my diabetes better and to stay positive and be a role model for my son.
Luke: When my friends invited me to my first sleep over after my diagnosis, I was a little nervous, but I really wanted to go. I fought through my nerves and went anyways, and I had a great time. I took care of my diabetes, with the help of my parents through texting, and I did a great job. It gave me confidence to do more stuff in the future.

Lisa (wife and mother)

1). What is your advice to other T1D spouses?
Learn about Diabetes.  Learn how to carb count so if you're making meals, you can give them the info. If your spouse is low grab them their low treatment and sit with them and don't take offense if they get grumpy with you. They are not in the right head space during this time. What did you learn through supporting your husband with his diabetes? That every day is different. You can eat the same thing and dose the same amount one day and have a different result the next day.

2.) What has been the biggest challenge in being a parent of a T1D kid?
Trying not to worry too much. In the beginning this was harder, especially when you are dropping off your young T1D at school to be looked after by teachers who just took a crash course in diabetes. It does get easier though. It was important for my husband and I to make sure Luke felt like an average kid. We really didn't want diabetes to stop him from doing the things he loved.  

3.) What do you wish someone had told you upon your son's diagnosis?
I could write a novel on this but an important one would have to be when doing sports make sure you have no insulin on board.

4.) How does diabetes shape your family on a day to day basis?
We have to be pretty organized as a family starting with making sure we have stock of all our supplies. If Luke has a soccer practice or game, we have to make sure he's eaten two hours before he has to be at the field and we have to make sure his blood sugar is at around 8-10 mmol/L (we are in Canada) as his blood sugars rise from adrenaline when he plays. We also have to make sure Luke is wearing his pump while he plays.

5.) Type 1 diabetes usually gives “rise” a bad reputation (ex. rise in A1C, rise in a CGM graph,) but we are all about helping people reclaim their rise; to rise above their diagnosis, to rise beyond their limitations, to rise above a number. Can you tell us about a time that you and your family reclaimed your rise with type 1 diabetes?
As mentioned previously Luke's adrenaline spikes when he plays sports so not wearing his insulin pump isn't an option for him. We couldn't find a product that worked for us so as a family we designed our own athletic shirt for Type 1 athletes. The shirt is designed specifically to hold an insulin pump, in a location that's proven to be safest for physical activity. It is designed to wear under your sports jersey but can also be worn on its own. We are very excited to be launching the end of July and more importantly it's our mission to find a cure. That is why we are going to be donating 50% of our profits back to diabetes research. We are partnering with the JDRF here in Canada and we couldn't be more excited! We hope to help empower T1D athletes. Check us out www.warriorhill.ca

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