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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Gus Meets with Diabetes Advocate and Former Miss America Nicole Johnson Baker

March 5, 2008
Bilirakis Blog

On Wednesday, Gus met with Miss America (1999) and tireless advocate for diabetes research and awareness, Nicole Johnson Baker.

The two met between votes in Gus's Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C. and discussed efforts in Congress to increase diabetes research and education.

Rep. Bilirakis and Former Miss America Nicole Johnson Baker

This University of Tennessee online publication, Tennessee Journalist, provides some background on Nicole Johnson Baker's advocacy on behalf of millions of Americans living with diabetes today.

Nicole Johnson Baker was crowned Miss America in 1999, six years after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 19 years old. Type 1 diabetes exists in five percent of 24 million Americans today, according to Johnson.

"I heard everything I could not do as a human being," Johnson said of the diagnosis. Johnson was told she could no longer participate in pageants, attend college or bear children later in life.

When Johnson stumbled upon a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt two months later, determination set in to prove the doctors wrong. Johnson went back to college, earning her bachelor's degree in English. Later, she continued to earn her master's degree in journalism.

. . . Johnson believes every American has diabetes. Those not diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has what Johnson calls "type 3." According to Johnson, type 3 diabetes is someone who loves and cares for someone diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes she said.

Johnson continued to explain the triangle of care for someone suffering from diabetes. Three areas of care mentioned were the emotional, psychological and physical aspects.

"I would not be here today if it wasn't for those type 3's - my mom and my dad," Johnson said of her family's support. "My daughter's only two, but she understands," she said.