Just one year ago, prior to taking the stage at the Miss Idaho competition, a contestant and now Congressional Award Bronze Medalist Sierra Sandison who suffered from Type 1 diabetes, felt conflicted about accessorizing her insulin pump during the Swimsuit competition in front of thousands of people.
Ultimately, Sandison chose to wear her insulin pump on stage to show support for Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Preteen McCall Salinas and her first-hand experience being a diabetic as well.
“She told me that she was too scared to get a pump herself, because she didn’t know what people would think or if they would say she looked weird,” said Sandison.
Sandison took to the stage at the Miss Idaho competition that year while being a participant for the Congressional Award. Her ultimate goal to earn her bronze medal was ‘to contribute to the diabetic community by spreading awareness about the disease, encouraging other diabetics and to raise money for a cure while promoting healthy lifestyles.’
To meet her goal, Sandison presented diabetes education speeches to groups with Camp Hodia, an organization that plans activities for youth with Type 1 diabetes. Now a medalist, Sandison sees the value in taking part in the Congressional Award.
“I learned how much of a difference it made for people to work together on reaching their goals,” said Sandison. “For example, having a community of other Type 1 diabetics inspired me to take better care of my own blood sugars, and the walking club encouraged people to stay active through activities.”
Family friend and marketing director at Salt & Light Radio, Pam Di Lucca served as Sandison’s adviser for the Congressional Award.
“Sierra has demonstrated enthusiasm, diligence and maturity in her pursuit of her goals,” said Lucca. “She has gained poise and knowledge which will enable her to make valuable contributions to her community in the future.”
After being crowned Miss Idaho 2014, she went on to compete in the Miss America 2014 Pageant on September 14, 2014 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sandison’s placement landed her in the top 16 contestants. The crown ultimately went to Kira Kazantsev of New York State.
Sandison’s story of courage and inspiration allowed her to challenge herself mentally and physically through her dedication to spreading awareness of diabetes.
“The Congressional Award has pushed me to lead a well-balanced life by being a constant reminder to stay healthy, improve myself daily, and contribute to my community, all while maintaining good grades in school,” said Sandison. “I hope to continue this rewarding and motivating lifestyle long after I age out of the Congressional Award program.”