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Brandon Denson

Date Posted: Thursday, January 02, 2020


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Brandon is used to working hard and fighting for what he wants. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a high school senior, he didn't receive any offers to play college football. Instead, he joined the Michigan State football team as a walk-on freshman, and earned a full scholarship to play linebacker for the next three years.

"I'm pretty determined, so when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to get it done," said Denson.

He fulfilled his dream of playing professional football in 2011 when he was drafted to play in the Canadian Football League. He has since played in the Arena Football League as well as the CFL. Brandon also competed on the TV show American Ninja Warrior on NBC, during which he proudly displayed his infusion set and CGM.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Watch Brandon's inspirational message for all people living with type 1 diabetes

Brandon Denson diabetes, Michigan State, American Ninja Warrior

"If I didn't take care of myself, they wouldn’t let me compete in pro sports," said Denson. He sticks to a healthy diet and works out regularly, while always monitoring how food and exercise affects his blood glucose.

Brandon receives his diabetes care at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence, from Dr. Nina Rosano. “I like how she listens to me as a patient, and clinic appointments are very thorough,” he said. “Between visits she’s always available by phone and myChart, and is quick to return messages and answer questions.”

Talking to young people who are living with diabetes is very important to Brandon and something he enjoys very much. That began while he was at Michigan State, and a 13-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes wrote to him saying how inspiring it was to watch him play college football. "I never really spoke to anybody about my diabetes until receiving that letter," Denson says of the note, which is displayed on his wall to this day. "It opened my eyes that I need to tell people, especially kids, that it's OK if you have diabetes."

Denson keeps in touch with that young man, who went on to play high school football. He's also spoken with parents of children with type 1 diabetes, as well as kids of all ages about going after their dreams. "We all have different stories," he says. "If you want to grow up and be a police officer, a swimmer, or a doctor, [diabetes] won't stop you!"