COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado Springs resident will be the first Black woman to lead the Beyond Type Run team, a group of 50 runners with Type 1 diabetes, in the New York City Marathon this weekend.
Tiana Cooks is a national pageant contestant and first-time New York City Marathon runner who is consistently breaking barriers as a leader, advocate and mentor for people of color after she was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age.
"It didn't run in the family, I am the only one in my immediate family that has Type 1 or Type 2. It was really interesting, I just started losing a lot of weight, and I felt like something wasn't right. I was very fatigued and lethargic. I told my mom, and we went to Urgent Care and sure enough, I had Type 1 diabetes," said Cooks.
After her diagnosis, Cooks says her life changed drastically, but not in a bad way.
"Growing up, I had a lot of insecurities and things that I didn't like about myself, but when it came to diabetes I realized it was the one thing that I couldn't change. It really changed my perspective on life, I was like life was too short to be upset over small things that you have no control over. The time that we have with people, it's important that we make it a priority," said Cooks. "Also, being diagnosed at that age, you have so many plans for your life but you realize it's not always about your plans. God has other plans for your life."
Cooks immediately immersed herself in the local diabetes community. She attended her first gala and helped set up camps for kids with diabetes to feel more secure and confident.
"Diabetes doesn't hold you back from being great or being normal. You can do everything, everyone else can do," said Cooks.
She'll be stepping out of her comfort zone to lead a team of Type 1 diabetes runners in the New York City Marathon Sunday (Nov.7).
"I know it is going to be challenging, especially going with Type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is a struggle each and every day, and there is never a break. Checking your blood sugar, counting carbs, taking insulin. It never ends so running this marathon will be another testament to show people that you can do anything," said Cooks.
Cooks is excited to be running her first marathon with other runners with Type 1 diabetes. They'll have a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a small wearable device that tracks blood glucose levels in real-time. It'll allow her to get alerts directly to her Garmin smartwatch so she can focus on her goals without worrying about her diabetes. This is the first time Dexcom has leveraged its partner Web API’s.
"This is the first time they'll have 50 runners going to New York and so it's awesome they able to do that. Technology makes life easier to manage with diabetes so it's going to be awesome for everyone to have access to CGM while they are running on race day," said Cooks.
She's also excited to be the first black woman to lead the team in the marathon.
"Representation goes really far, and it shows younger girls what they're capable of. It shows women who look like you what they're capable of, and it's not until you see that person doing it that it clicks in your head that I can do that too. I hope that I'm inspiring other women, girls, people of color to get out there. Your voice matters, your story matters, and you're capable of doing anything, said Cooks.
Cooks will also be featured in the #SeeDiabetes campaign by The Global Movement for Time in Range as part of National Diabetes Awareness Month. Celebrity spokesperson Nick Jonas will be using his Instagram account to feature stories of people around the world living with diabetes. On Sunday (Nov.7), Jonas will be highlighting Cook's story.
For those interested in watching her on race day or getting updates, visit the Beyond Type 1 or Dexcom websites.