Kyle Cochran, four-time American Ninja Warrior, has been living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since the age of five. Cochran competed on seasons 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the show which features “The world’s most difficult obstacle course.” Kyle was the first person with T1D to qualify for the competition and the first to wear his insulin pump during the grueling multi-stage event in 2012. He decided to start competing on American Ninja Warrior to encourage other people with diabetes towards a life without limits. Kyle will be joining the JDRF Greater Bay Area Chapter for the JDRF One Walk on October 14 at Levi’s Stadium. We caught up with him to ask him about the JDRF One Walk and life with T1D:
When was your first JDRF One Walk? Why did you walk?
Kyle: My first JDRF One Walk was four years ago. I walked because I enjoy being around other people who are united in seeing the lives of people with T1D improved.
My favorite thing about getting together with other people with T1D, is seeing how cool and normal they are. I know that sounds strange, but I was the only person I knew with T1D until I was 18 and I always felt different. Meeting others with T1D has been a fun reminder to me that we really aren’t so different, but actually pretty incredible people for what we overcome every day. Thanks, JDRF for bringing us together for events like this.
Do you feel supported in your journey with T1D?
Kyle: I do. My family has always been incredibly supportive and pushed me to never use T1D as an excuse for not doing something I loved. I feel supported by the people I meet at community events like these, and every day working at Tandem Diabetes Care around people who are INCREDIBLY passionate about seeing the lives of people with T1D improved.
I’m grateful for my experience and want to give back by sharing my story. I decided to compete in the American Ninja Warrior competition to prove to people with T1D that they can overcome their personal obstacles and pursue their own passions and dreams. It’s inspiring for me to hear others’ stories and see the optimism and determination despite what we’ve all been through and are going through.
What do you think is the most important T1D issue right now?
Kyle: Access to new technology. I see it every day through my work in this field, and I’m so tired of barriers put up by some insurance companies (not all) to the best treatments available. We shouldn’t have to fight to get our supplies, or a new insulin pump, or CGM when we will be healthier with it.
If you met someone newly diagnosed with T1D, what would be your advice to them?
Kyle: I say, PUSH THROUGH! It’s hardest right at first. You’ll survive this and it’s not going to impact your life that much unless you let it. YOU decide how you view diabetes and how much it affects you.
Find community! Go to events, conferences, camps, and join Facebook groups. I’ve learned so much by being around other people with diabetes and they’ve inspired me through many of my toughest times.
What’s something you are excited about re: the future of T1D?
Kyle: Honestly, I’m excited about the innovation in device technology at Tandem Diabetes Care. And it’s great to see how organizations like JDRF are seeing our passion for improving the lives of people with T1D. Tandem really appreciates the support from members of the community who are letting us know how their lives are changed because of the new technology. It’s a really exciting time for people with T1D.
And for the near future, I’m excited to come out and have fun with some incredible people at the JDRF One Walk in Santa Clara this weekend!
At the JDRF One Walk on October 14 at Levi’s Stadium, Kyle will share how insulin pump therapy and his life-long love of competition have helped him achieve his success in life. His participation is part of Tandem Diabetes Care’s Live Life in Full Color Speaker Series.