TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The winner of the Miss Idaho 2014 pageant isn’t the first Miss America contestant to have diabetes, but she is the first to proudly display it during a competition.
Sierra Sandison, 20, embraced her disease and became a role model for many when she competed in the Miss Idaho swimsuit competition wearing her insulin pump, a medical device that automatically administers insulin without shots.
Later in the evening, she would go on to defeat 19 other contestants and win the pageant.
Two years ago, Sierra Sandison was devastated when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, according to the Twin Falls Times-News.
“It totally flipped my world upside down,” Sandison told the Times-News. “Before I started competing in pageants, I wanted to completely ignore diabetes and hope it would go away.”
On July 15, Sandison posted the swimsuit competition photo to Facebook, saying, “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.”
Her post said it was terrifying to walk out on stage in a swimsuit to start with, not to mention while wearing a medical device.
“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.”
Sandison encouraged others diabetics to post pictures of themselves with their insulin pumps to social media using the hashtag #showmeyourpump.
The hashtag quickly went viral.
“Every time I look at my Facebook, I start crying. I’ve been on a roller coaster all week,” Sandison told the Times-News.
In September, Sandison will be competing in the Miss America Pageant Sept. 9-14 in Atlantic City, N.J.