I had the chance to meet and have a heart to heart with current Miss Idaho and PWD Sierra Sandison, in Atlantic City’s famed Boardwalk Hall.
Sidebar: I grew up 5 miles from Boardwalk Hall, it’s where my parents first met and where my High School graduation was held. Boardwalk Hall and the Miss America Organization have always held a special place in my heart and history - And so does Sierra!
Having my diabetes world and home town world collide is pretty spectacular, as is Sierra Sandison.
As the DOC (Diabetes Online Community), along with everyone else in the free/ non D world knows of Sierra because of the global implications of stepping out on stage wearing her insulin pump, and her hashtag #showmeyourpump.
Sierra's a mulit-faceted PWD (Person with Diabetes) for sure. She’s a student, a Beauty Queen, the creator of the #showmeyourpump hashtag and one of the founders (along with her sister) of Possibilities with Disabilities, an organization focusing on extra curricular activities/camps for people with disabilities.
Sierra is quite an accomplished and well spoken young woman who does an amazing job of representing people with diabetes and people in her home state of Idaho.
Sunday night, September 14th, Sierra, along with 52 other pageant hopefuls will compete for the Miss America title. More info on how you can help Sierra win at the end of the post!
And now, here's our heart to heart chat!
KK: Welcome to Atlantic City! Can you believe you’re finally here?
SS: No I can’t believe it - It’s like a dream come true - it still hasn’t completely set in yet.
KK: What’s the best part so far?
SS: I think just spending time with the other girls. I’m surround by the most amazing 52 accomplished young women in the United States so that’s been such a great experience! And come Sunday night, no matter who is crowned, I know I’ll be super excited to be there in person, for the crowning of the next Miss America
And secondly, whoever gets crowned, I know it’s going to be one of my best friends.
KK: That’s beautiful. OK, tell me about your platform - Actually, tell everyone in the DOC (the Diabetes Online Community) about your platform.SS: My official platform is Possibilities for Disabilities - My sister and I started it. Possibilities for Disabilities involves Sports Camps for students/ people with disabilities of all ages, but it's mostly young adults who participate.
We started the camps because we realized that 1 in 20 people live with disability, and when we looked around at our choir, our cheer team and our basketball team, those 1 in 20 are severally under represented.
My sister and I realized that for our whole lives, we’ve always taken extra curricular activities for granted.
Extra curricular activities are vital in adolescent development. They teach you who you are and how to work hard and help you find and understand what you’re passionate about.
It's REALLY important for children with disabilities to have the chances that extra curricular activities offer so we started with a Cheer Camp. Since then we’ve done 2 Cheer Camps, 2 Basketball Camps, a soccer camp, a tennis camp, a power lifting workshop and a week long regular camp .
Shortly after we started the program we realized that the students who had volunteered as coaches were developing really strong relationships with the kids with disabilities. The fun and inclusive interactions that the camp presented actually broke down the social barriers that children with disabilities are often faced with.
It was unbelievable to watch!
KK: I bet! OK, diabetes - You’re 2 years into your life with diabetes.
KK: Do you celebrate your diaversary?
KK: OH YES.
KK: That makes me happy! OK, how has diabetes and the Diabetes Online Community for that matter changed your life, Sierra?
SS: It’s changed EVERY aspect of my life.
First: When I was diagnosed, it flipped my world upside down in a bad way.
I didn’t check my blood sugars and I was in denial, I didn’t want to deal with it and I didn’t want to think about it.
KK: That’s a very real and normal reaction you had.
SS: And then when it came to the insulin pump, I didn’t want to one because I was an 18 year old young woman and I wasn’t completely confident about who I was. And I was scared.KK: I think many women and men (young and the not so,) for that matter feel the same way you did, I know I did.
MI: Right! but even now, sometimes people make comments and I know they don’t mean to be mean.... but still.. it hurts my feelings.
Sidebar: I wanted to hug her.
KK: I get it. 98 % of the comments don’t bother us and we take the time to educate, but it’s those 2% that can bring us down.
SS: YES, EXACTLY. I was on shots for about 6 months when I heard about Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999 and how she wore her insulin pump on the Miss America stage, I thought to myself: WOW, I’ve been lying to myself~ The media gives us this perfect version of a girl and she doesn’t wear an insulin pump, so I was under the impression that if I wore an insulin pump, I would be less than beautiful.
But when I saw Nicole, this former Miss America wearing her insulin pump, it COMPLETELY changed my mindset. So I got an insulin pump (for the record, Sierra wears a t:slimⓇ pump) and I started to compete in the Miss America Organization pageants, but I wasn’t confident enough to wear my insulin pump on stage until this summer at the Miss Idaho Pageant. And sometimes, it’s still scary and intimidating when people make comments.
Growing up, I never was a little girl who wanted to be Miss America, but I always wanted to make a difference and change the world. But I didn’t know how to do that.
So when I grew up and found out who Nicole Johnson was, she completely changed every aspect of my life.
Not only in being confident and wearing my insulin pump, but everything I’ve learned from her inspiring me to get involved with the Miss America Organization, it’s given me public speaking taught me how to live a well balanced life and taught me to be responsible with my diabetes.
I really gained an understanding of how powerful the Miss America Crown & her example can be. And really, that’s why I’m here. For diabetics and people with disabilities, for people with medical devices and for people with any other insecurities. At first I let diabetes push me down, but I’ve turned it and empowered myself.
KK: That’s what it’s all about!! How great is it to be so empowered and out of the diabetes closet?
SS: It’s kind of new. All My friends knew I had diabetes, but there were people I knew well who didn’t know - It's been so refreshing because when I’m “Miss Idaho” People are like: YEAH, #showmeyourpump & that’s so awesome!
But when I’m not Miss Idaho or when I don’t have my sash and crown on, I'm starting to get those same comments!
KK: How have your friends handled your diabetes?
SS: My friends have been so supportive and so proud and really been excited to learn about diabetes.
KK; Good, good, good! Anything you want to say to the DOC?
SS: There’s so many negatives surrounding technology and the diabetes online community is an amazing example of how Social Media can be used to for good.
There aren’t many diabetics in my area and the DOC reinforces that I'm not alone, and that I'm not being crazy or silly for being insecure and thinking things like boys are never going to look at me again because I wear a pump.
I really thought that at first!
KK: Sierra, you are not alone! And every single one of us in the DOC and beyond has had those very same thoughts at one time. Diabetes is actually a really good filter!
SS: I’m starting to see that! Honestly, knowing that my concerns were legitimate and normal and that I wasn’t crazy was and is really comforting. And in return, when people say I’ve given them confidence in wearing their insulin pumps, really - they’re the ones that have given me the confidence. Honestly, when that swimsuit picture was being taken, I was shaking in my shoes about what people would think about my insulin pump!The support has been such a boost to my confidence & I really hope I’ve helped people with diabetes because I know they’ve helped me!
FYI: We can actually help Sierra get into the Miss America finals. Click HERE and vote for Sierra as America's Choice to go to the finals. You have until 11:59 PM, Thursday, September 11th to place your vote and very vote counts!
Also, Sierra will be a guest on the Dr. Oz show tomorrow (9/11/14) so lets all make sure that the DOC tunes in! And while we're watching, lets tweet/facebook our support and create a Social Media firestorm of support for one of our own! Tweet pictures of you getting your #showmeyourpump on and use the hashtags: #showmeyourpump, #diabetes, #DOC
Sierra twitter handle is: @Sierra_anne93 and Dr. Oz's twitter handle is: @DrOz
|Official "Miss America" Media Pass|
|I couldn't resist!|