Like many of you, we first heard about Sierra Sandison, Miss Idaho, last summer. I was immediately drawn to her story and platform.
Raising any girl has it's challenges. Raising a girl with Type One diabetes adds a whole new dimension. It makes an already complicated situation even more so. Little girls are looking for role models and learning about traditional standards of beauty (no matter how hard we may attempt to redefine this). Any difference or deviation can be seen as a tragic flaw.
An insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor attached to your body at all times....
Fingers full of little holes from all the testing...
Having to pull out a kit and test your blood...
You can imagine that doesn't make adolescence any easier.
So I was thrilled to hear about Sierra and her platform that what makes you unique is what makes you beautiful.
But it's more than just words. Sierra doesn't just talk the talk. She walks the walk. She wears her pump proudly and refuses to let it define her.
Sweets and I had the honor of interviewing her over the summer. You can read that here!
And we were thrilled to watch her strut her stuff on the Miss America stage - pump and all! You can read about why we thought that was such a big deal here!
We had the honor of meeting Sierra back in November when she visited our JDRF chapter for a few events. Sweets was so thrilled to actually meet her in person... and get to try on that crown!
When we found out that Sierra was coming back to participate in our Type One Nation Summit this Spring, Sweets was ecstatic! She considers Sierra to be one of her good friends!
One of the many things that Sierra does is visit schools and talk to students about diabetes and her platform. As a teacher and a parent, I love this so much! We immediately began working with Sierra to see if we could work out a visit Sweet's school.
I thought this would be a great thing for her school! Raising awareness and educating is always a good thing! But I think it's important because it's not just Sweets that has T1D at her school and in her district. This year she's one of three in her school. A few years ago, she was one of eight. There are around 30 students with T1D in her district. That's an insanely large number. (At least to me...!)
Education. Awareness. Advocacy.
Kids are being diagnosed like crazy. And listening to Sierra speak is a great way to bring this to light. It's not just about the T1 kids... it's about all kids.
So we got it worked out and Sweets was counting down the days!
She had her special outfit picked out and a present for Sierra ready to go...
I kid you not.
Not at Sweet's school but at the high school. However, the way the campus is situated, you can't get to Sweet's school without going by the high school. The high school kids were evacuated to some of the other schools close by. Everything was locked down.
And Sierra's assembly was cancelled.
Luckily, she was still able to speak at one of the schools in our district where Misty's daughter, Ally, attends. This is a great thing for the kids at that school who are all a little older than Sweets.
However, Sweets was distraught. There were many tears and "This is the worst day ever!" was said numerous times. (She's a bit dramatic...)
I told Sweets that she would still get to see Sierra the next day at the Summit and that helped a little bit. But not much. She was so looking forward to sharing this with her classmates!
Being the incredible person that Sierra is, she felt badly about the situation and that Sweets was upset. She didn't have time in her schedule to try it again the next week. So she did the next best thing...
She invited Sweets to go see Cinderella with her after the Summit!
Now THAT made it all better! What an incredibly sweet and kind thing to do!
We are so thankful that we've had the chance to meet Sierra in person. She is everything that she seems to be. She is sweet and kind. She is smart and athletic. She is a wonderful role model for all kids - but especially little girls with T1D!
Thanks, Sierra! Living life and growing up with diabetes along for the ride isn't easy. But having incredible people like you to learn from and to inspire us makes it much easier!