The South Carolina women’s basketball team announced on Oct. 6 that it is partnering with Rewind in an effort to fight type 2 diabetes in South Carolina.
According to its website, Rewind is a “long-term clinical program that combines proven science with expert clinical care” with programs to help participants lose weight and fight type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases caused by obesity.
As part of the partnership, Rewind and the women’s basketball team will work together to create content for social media and hold special events for members.
“Today, we take the first step in a long journey to go achieve a mission,” Peter Thulson, co-founder and CEO of Rewind, said. “It’s about defeating diabetes, and it’s about bringing economic empowerment to these players.”
This cause is especially important and personal for women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley, who said she lost her father to diabetes and knows players on the team have been affected by the disease.
“Type 2 diabetes connects all of us because I know we asked our players yesterday, ‘Who in your family is stricken with diabetes?,’ and basically all of them raised their hands,” Staley said.
Staley said the partnership is an ongoing effort to continue building the Gamecocks’ impact off the court.
“When we first came to South Carolina as our staff 14 years ago, our impact was mainly an on-court thing – just making sure that we’re in a position to win national championships,” Staley said. “We’re in this position to help our community in this way."
Research by the American Diabetes Association last year found that around 13.2% of the adult population in South Carolina lives with diagnosed diabetes, and just over 34.9% more have prediabetes – elevated blood sugar levels that are not high enough to be considered diabetes.
"More than half a million people today have type 2 diabetes in the state of South Carolina," Thulson said.“You could fill Colonial Life Arena twice, or come close to filling it twice, with the 35,000 people who are newly diagnosed every single year."
Staley said Rewind initially reached out to her about partnering to help cure diabetes in Columbia, and she wanted to include the whole team, who unanimously supported the project. Thulson said the relationship between Rewind and the team is unique because it began in an unconventional place by health industry standards.
“We’re starting a venture and initiative about a health problem, diabetes, but we’re starting it not with a hospital, we’re not starting it in a doctor’s office, we’re starting it with a basketball coach, a basketball team and on a basketball court,” Thulson said. “The only way you achieve something as big as our goal is if you start by meeting people where they are, and where people are in this state, first and foremost, is watching and rooting on this team.”
Staley also said the partnership was unique because of the opportunity for the team to have equity in the program.
"For the life of me, I don’t think I’ve heard or seen or read any other program that’s benefitted in this way, and that will have long-term effect on our community,” Staley said.
Senior forward Victaria Saxton emphasized her excitement to participate in this partnership because of the benefits it could have for her teammates’ families and the state of South Carolina as a whole.
“I think it’s a really exciting thing for us to be able to do this, just to be able to help our community out," Saxton said. "To know that we have players on our team that have family members that deal with things like this, they can always take this information back to their families.”
Accomplishing Rewind's goals could have an even bigger impact on the community than the team's two NCAA tournament wins, according to Staley.
“Our biggest goal ... what we want to do is fill Colonial Life Arena with people who have reversed diabetes," Staley said. "That would be the biggest and the most incredible accomplishment that we could ever have done here in the state of South Carolina.”