Rock climbing helps shape life with diabetes for Liam Scott

Feb 10, 2017

We were lucky to catch Liam Scott while he and his dad were snowed in at home, expecting 18 inches in Rhode Island. His mum and sister were in Salt Lake City for the USA Climbing Bouldering Youth National Championships. Since Liam was very young, his parents have taken the two kids on outdoor adventures. In 2010, when Liam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 7, they promised that he could keep doing all of the things he loved doing. Liam returned to rock climbing just three days after his diagnosis. Since then, they’ve traveled around the U.S. and to Canada, Iceland, France, Switzerland, and Italy to climb as a family, and have even formed their own non-profit to encourage and empower individuals with type 1 diabetes to embrace an active lifestyle.

Dedication and hard work are inherent characteristics to the sport of rock climbing, which have helped shape the way Liam lives his life. We found out about some of his other talents during our interview and look forward to following him as he continues to push limits.

What do you think is the most important thing that people without diabetes should know about diabetes?
The most important thing for people without diabetes to know is that people with type 1 are not sick, can eat anything they want, and are just normal people. 

It’s also important for people to know the warnings signs so they can be diagnosed.

What do you like to do when you are not at school?
I love to climb as well as draw. I also play the guitar.

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Why climbing?
It is good exercise, and we get to do it as a family. I also love being outside and traveling to new places, getting used to new types of rock.

You and your family run a cool organization! What made you want to start Rock Type 1?
Sometimes it can be intimidating to do adventurous things with type 1, and we founded Rock Type 1 to empower people to find adventure. Bringing people together creates a sense of community – between the camps that I’ve been to and our Rock Type 1 events, I have met hundreds of people who have diabetes. It’s nice to get to interact with others who already understand what type 1 is all about, so that you can just be a kid.

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Describe a time where you taught someone something about diabetes.
I have helped my grandparents understand the relationship between eating carbohydrates and blood sugar. It is not an easy concept if you have never had to think about it before.

How have you changed since being diagnosed with diabetes?
I have become more mature since I was diagnosed. I had to learn how to keep myself safe.

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Have you always used an insulin pump? If not, what was it about insulin pumps that made you want to switch?
I started using an insulin pump 3 months after diagnosis. My endocrinologist told me about Tandem pumps. I also saw them at various events and loved the touchscreen feature. Since I exercise a lot, it was really important for me to be able to adjust basal rates so I don’t go low.

How many countries have you travelled to with your pump?
I have been to Canada, Iceland, France, Switzerland, and Italy.

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If you could have a song written about you, what would the song be called and who would sing it?
It would be called “Life Is Sweet” by The Foo Fighters.

If you are to be recognized in history for one thing, what would you want to be known for?
My art. I recently received a Rhode Island Scholastic Art Award for a print that I made during art class at school. My hope is that someday I will produce art that will have a real impact on people.

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What’s next for Rock Type 1?
We’re hosting a free rock climbing event for kids (ages 6 and up) and teens with type 1 diabetes and their siblings on March 18th, 2017, from 2-5 pm at Central Rock Gym in Watertown, MA. t:slim® Pump user Will Cross will be joining us too. Will is an incredibly accomplished mountain climber who has summited the world's highest peaks, including Everest. I look forward to hearing about his adventures, especially because he hasn’t let living with type 1 prevent him from a full life.

What’s your next family adventure?
We are headed to Red Rock Canyon, Nevada in April to boulder on the beautiful red sandstone.

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If you met someone newly diagnosed with diabetes, what would be your advice to them?
I would tell them to be patient. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The only thing that’s predictable is it being unpredictable.

From time to time, we may pass along: suggestions, tips, or information about other Tandem Insulin Pump user experiences or approaches to the management of diabetes. However, please note individual symptoms, situations, circumstances and results may vary. Please consult your physician or qualified health care provider regarding your condition and appropriate medical treatment. Please read the Important Safety Information linked below before using a Tandem Diabetes Care product.

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