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Five years ago, Nicole Johnson, 24, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after contracting a flu virus. Up until that point, blood glucose management was probably something to which she had never given much thought. She learned that her daily life would be forever altered as a result of the disease.
Five years later, Johnson's life has taken another turn. This time, however, it was because she was crowned Miss America 1999.
Johnson was named the winner of the pageant on September 19, 1998, and pledged to devote her one-year reign to raising awareness of diabetes.
"There's something wrong with me. You can't see it, but everybody has something in their lives," Johnson told reporters after being crowned. "I'm a normal girl. I'm not perfect, and Miss America should not be perfect."
In a press release, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) applauded Nicole Johnson "for her tremendous courage and strength in overcoming her personal battle with diabetes, and serving as a positive role model for the over 16 million Americans who suffer from the disease."
Approximately 14 months ago, Johnson was fitted with an insulin pump, which she wore during the Miss America pageant. As Miss Virginia 1998, she worked as a celebrity spokesperson with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDF), and recently lobbied in her home state to gain insurance coverage for insulin pumps like the one she wears.
"With her national celebrity, she will help us get the message out that diabetes is a serious and life-threatening disease," stated JDF president and CEO James Mulvihill, MD.
Johnson was one of three women who competed in high-profile beauty pageants while using diabetes awareness as a platform. The others were Miss New York, Deanna Herrera, and Miss Ohio, Lisa Moser.
"Miss Johnson's willingness to speak out about diabetes to the nation is instrumental in promoting the needs of people with diabetes," said Jane Camporeale, chairperson of the board for the ADA. " We look forward to working with Nicole in the coming months to help her with her campaign."
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Nicole Johnson is a native of Seminole, Florida, and a graduate of University of South Florida and Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She wants to pursue a career as a national news anchor and eventually enter politics.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.