8 People With Diabetes Who Inspire Us!

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If you have diabetes, you’re probably already aware of some of the big-name celebrities that have type 1 or type 2. Perhaps your friends have let you know that “so-and-so” has diabetes in an effort to encourage you on your bad days. Many folks are aware of A-list diabetics like Tom Hanks (type 2), Larry King (type 2), or Nick Jonas (type 1). And British Prime Minister Theresa May recently made headlines after her type 2 diagnosis was changed to type 1.

But there are so many people with diabetes doing amazing things, and it’s not just world leaders and superstars that inspire us. We wanted to share a list of people you may not have heard of, because be it in sports or TV or just everyday life, people with diabetes are making a difference everywhere!

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are 8 people living with diabetes that inspire us!

8. Nicole Michele Johnson

In 1993, Nicole was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She was told she should drop out of college, move home, and choose an easy, low-stress career path. She was crushed when doctors said that she wouldn’t be able to start a family.

But in 1999, Nicole became the first person with diabetes to be crowned Miss America. She wore an insulin pump leading up to the pageant, and she was an advocate for diabetes research and better insurance coverage for diabetics during the competition.

Nicole now has her doctorate degree and two master’s degrees, and she runs a program at the University of South Florida designed to help those with prediabetes live healthier lifestyles. And in 2006, she became a mother to a healthy baby. Nicole told Diabetes Daily, “Early on, I let my diabetes control my life. Now, I control diabetes.”

7. Patti Labelle

Perhaps you have heard of this talented, “divabetic.” Patti Labelle is a two-time Grammy-winning soul singer and actress. She found out that she has type 2 diabetes after passing out during a performance in New York. Patti has a family history of type 2, and her mother passed away due to complications from the disease. Now Patti is working hard to maintain healthier eating habits so that she can go on doing what she loves.

Post-diagnosis Patti acted in the Oscar-nominated movie A Soldier’s Story and competed on Dancing with the Stars. She is also now a member of the American Diabetes Association’s Celebrity Cabinet. But music remains Patti’s first love. She is working on more albums, and we’re looking forward to their release!

6. Gary Hall

Gary Hall Jr. was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999 while he was training for the 2000 Olympic Games. He’d already won four medals in different swimming events at the 1996 Olympics and was chasing his first gold medal in an individual event. But after his diagnosis, doctors thought that he wouldn’t be able to compete at the same level.

But in 2000 he won his first individual gold medal for the 50 meter freestyle swim, and he did it again, breaking his record, in 2004. His training plan had him swimming up to 8 hours a day, and he had to get out of the water every 45 minutes to check his blood sugar.

“Diabetes doesn’t have to stand between you and your dreams,” Gary told the Diabetes Research Institute. Gary has started a foundation that supports cure-focused research and he travels around the country speaking at diabetes fundraisers.

“NEXT” for more inspiring figures!

Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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