BOISE - Sierra Sandison has become a role model for many since she took the Miss Idaho crown after learning to embrace her diabetes diagnosis with pride.
Sandison, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2012, wore her insulin pump clipped to her clothing at last week’s Miss Idaho pageant, including during the swimsuit competition.
The Times-News reports Sandison beat 19 women vying for the title and will now compete in the Miss America Pageant in September.
Sandison’s story has since gone viral as photos of her wearing the pump —which automatically administers insulin without shots— have shown up on Good Morning America and other national media outlets.
“It totally flipped my world upside down,” Sandison said. “Before I started competing in pageants, I wanted to completely ignore diabetes and hope it would go away.”
The last Miss America contestant to wear an insulin pump on stage was Nicole Johnson in 1999, who won the crown.
Sandison said Johnson’s story was one of the biggest influences on why she started participating in pageants. After her diagnosis, Sandison was crowned Miss Pocatello. A year later, she won the Miss Magic Valley crown.
“Even if you have an insulin pump, you are not less beautiful,” she said. “Maybe I can be Nicole Johnson for someone.”
Sandison said the photo of her wearing her insulin pump has inspired others to show theirs by sharing photos on the Miss Idaho Organization Facebook page and using the hashtag (hash)showmeyourpump. The online campaign has now extended to other disabilities, Sandison said, with young women sharing photos of them wearing hearing aids.
“Every time I look at my Facebook, I start crying. I’ve been on a roller coaster all week,” Sandison said.
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