Mandy Marquardt: Dear younger me

24 March 2021

Dear younger me,

There are so many things I want to tell you, but the best place to start is to never forget to dream big and always follow your heart. The road will not always be easy, but I can promise you it will be an enriching and amazing journey that is still unfolding.

Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16 will be tough, I don’t want to lie to you. Despite the challenges, your inner strength and the support of your family will be key in moving forwards with your journey. You will learn that you are resilient. I know it feels like your life was turned upside down, but just take it one day at a time, keep training, take care of your nutrition and continue doing what brings you joy. You may not believe it now, but not even one year after your diagnosis, you will win bronze at the German Junior Nationals in the same event when you didn’t have diabetes. You’ll surprise yourself!

Not long after you will come across Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team. They are like you, they race with type one. It will change your mindset completely.  Through Team Novo Nordisk, you will learn to talk about your diabetes and share your story.

While understandable, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed of your diagnosis. It is part of who you are now, but it does not define you.

Stick with it and you will become a professional track sprint cyclist.

Once you set your mind to being a professional track sprint cyclist, you will improve year after year. You will represent the United States at numerous events all over the world. Representing your country and everyone affected by diabetes worldwide at the Pan American Championships, UCI Track Cycling World Cups and the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. It won’t always be easy, but stay consistent.

You will become an 18-time U.S. National Champion and set 3 U.S National Records.

You’re going to be named to the Olympic Long Team for the 2020 Olympic Games!

You will be a role model.

You’re going to have a great impact on the diabetes community. Sharing your story with the world will resonate with many, especially children. While traveling the world and competing, you will encounter a previous connection, and talk to their 12-year old son, Elijah who had just been diagnosed and positively impact his life. You are meant to be here, doing what you love for a reason.

Social media will be on the rise, where you will have the opportunity to interact and impact people worldwide. You will successfully use your platform to expose more people to the sport of track cycling because it is your passion and it brings you happiness. You will move to Pennsylvania and attend Penn State Lehigh Valley and meet someone special that sees who for you who are, and you’ll ride bikes together and have four fur babies. As challenging as this is right now, there’s so much good to look forward to.

As part of Team Novo Nordisk, you will be inspiring, empowering and educating people worldwide affected by diabetes and that’s really powerful. How cool is it that you will see other young kids wearing a Team Novo Nordisk jersey, like this young boy and his dad, who reached out to you and the team on Twitter.

You will find it fun and just uplifting to be able to impact another young person’s life. You will empower young athletes and girls to be confident and simply recognize what they’re capable of and that their voice can be amplified to be powerful within their community.

Track cycling will enable you to travel, see the world and meet different people from different states and countries. That cool experience of being able to just ride your bike in and have this feeling of freedom and excitement will never leave you. The bike will always be your happy place. Remember that you and all of us are greater than our highs and lows.

You have a great support system all around you and the courage to never give up. You will continue to explore your passions, join a great team and be able to race for the national team. It all won’t come very easily, and you will have to work really hard for everything, but it will all be worth it. You are meant to be here for a reason. 

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