Check out the story on Miss Idaho Sierra Sandison, the diabetic Miss America contestant. Read on for all the details on Sandison …
1. Sierra Sandison Has Type 1 Diabetes
Sandison was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 18, but hasn’t let that stop her from competing in pageants. After winning the title of Miss Idaho, it was her diabetes that actually became the focus of all the media attention surrounding her, leading her to be featured on The Today Show and Good Morning America.
2. She Is Known for Wearing her Insulin Pump During a Competition
Miss Idaho Sierra Sandison gained worldwide attention for wearing her insulin pump during a competition. On July 15, 2014, Sandison posted a photo of herself onstage in a swimsuit, wearing the pump and posted this caption on Facebook:
There it is. I would never have dreamt of posting a swimsuit picture on social media, but diabetics from all over the country have been asking to see me and my insulin pump on the #MissIdaho2014 stage. Honestly, it is terrifying walking out on stage in a swimsuit, let alone attached to a medical device. My message to everyone, diabetic or not, is that we all have something that doesn’t “measure up” to the beauty standards set by the media–and that is okay! It does not make you any less beautiful. We also all have obstacles, challenges, and trials. Diabetes turned my life upside down when I was first diagnosed. Don’t let your challenge hold you back or slow you down. Use it to, not only empower yourself and grow as an individual, but to serve and influence other people as well.
With that said, I have faced my fear of proudly showing my insulin pump! Now I want to see YOURS! Post your photo on social media (insta, twitter, facebook–make sure it is shared publically so I can see it) with the hashtag #showmeyourpump! The nationwide support from my fellow diabetics this weekend has been AMAZING! I can’t wait to see more of you guys! This is not limited to just girls, or to people with pumps–I want to see YOU and whatever your daily battle with diabetes looks like.
3. Her Inspiration Is Miss America 1999
— Ali (@AERosko) February 23, 2014
Sandison’s inspiration as a contestant is Miss America 1999 Nicole Johnson, who also competed with an insulin pump. Sandison admitted:
I had been too scared to get one. I was afraid having a machine attached to me would make me less beautiful … She (Nicole Johnson) had such a huge impact on my confidence and self-esteem. I had an obstacle and I have been able to overcome it and reach people.
Johnson now is an advocate for diabetes research, treatment, and education, having also been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993. Johnson became a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association in the 1990s before competing for the title of Miss Virginia. Then, in 1997 she started wearing a miniature insulin pump on her hip to control her illness, which she wore in her pageants for both Miss Virginia and Miss America. She was then crowned the first Miss America contestant and winner with diabetes.
4. Sandison’s Platform Is Possibilities for Disabilities
Possibilities for Disabilities is Sandison’s platform, a program which offers sports camps for people with developmental disabilities. She tells the Press of Atlantic City:
We started it to give kids opportunities to have extracurricular activities. It started breaking down barriers as they formed these friendships. It gave them identities beyond their disabilities.
5. She Lived In Ecuador For a Year
According to the Press of Atlantic City, Sandison lived in Ecuador when her father for a year while he worked as a doctor at a mission clinic. Living there helped her to learn Spanish, which she can now speak, read and write. Sandison said that the experience “gave her an appreciation for America’s healthcare and educational opportunities.” She also stated:
What it really taught me was to appreciate the amazing education system here. It has its problems, but we have free access to it.