Could Lightning Strike Twice??…..We Can Only Hope!!

SierraStrange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? This quote is from the movie classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.  For today’s purposes, we need to change the word man……to woman.  And in this case, a specific woman.  Her name is Nicole Johnson.  And if she was not around, and thankfully she is, the hole would have been enormous.

There were many, many, many stories running around this week about Miss Idaho, Sierra Sandison (pictured above), and her wearing of her insulin pump during last week’s competition where she was crowned.  In her own words she will tell you that she did not even want to mention her diabetes much less wear a bathing suit with her pump attached, and someone changed her mind.

“The media often tells us this lie: if your appearance deviates in any way from cover girls, movie stars, super models, etc., it is a flaw and something is wrong with you. Well, guess what? Miss America 1999 has an insulin pump, and it doesn’t make her any less beautiful. In fact, in my mind, it enhances her beauty!”

Amen sister!

Nicole johnsonI have known Nicole for a long time and she is as consistent as the sun rises and falls when it comes to diabetes.  I have stated on many occasions that I am not quite sure if other Miss America’s have held fast and true to their platform for change that they talked about when they were crowned, but Nicole’s drive has only become stronger, more dedicated, and more wide-spread.

Her platform about diabetes was truly only the beginning.  What she has accomplished with college students, legislation, testifying on the hill, lecturing, and so much more has changed the face of diabetes in this country.

She has always been who she is and many have benefitted from her efforts; and now Sierra Sandison has made it quite clear why she is coming out in full voice about diabetes; it was because of another Miss America who was not afraid to stand up and say after she was told that she should never try to compete again, “If anybody, if anybody should compete; I have a reason to compete.  I had a message.  I have something that people need to know about.  They need to know about this disease.”

That woman was Nicole Johnson.  (see the video of her incredible story, here.) 

In the fall, a Miss America will be crowned.  When no one else would do it, one did. Imagine another young lady with T1 diabetes becoming Miss America?

We can only hope.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Diabetes “Mad Men”…..What Commercial WOULD YOU LIKE to See?

mad menFrom my time as a producer, I can tell you that it is a very labor-consuming, frustrating, and difficult time frame, from conception to airtime, creating a commercial or Public Service Announcement (PSA).

Trying to think of a commercial with a concept that captures the viewer’s attention by being edgy like this one created for the 1984 Superbowl. (Click links to see Ad).  Is no easy task.



Or perhaps a lighthearted approach like this one reminding us to “buckle-up’—-this became a huge classic.

Buckle up




And if you like Public Service Announcements, here is an all-time classic.

Like father like son




In between all of these thousands and thousands of commercials and public service announcements are the ones that missed the mark. Not every commercial can be remembered like Smokey the Bear.  And when it comes to disease-specific like diabetes it gets even tougher as we learned in the last few days.  We want this, but you cannot do that; this is good, but don’t say that; OMG my kids will see that–no way; they are healthy, they could die at any moment; the list is extremely hard to navigate, extremely hard.

While at dLife I wrote and produced the PSA spot below (look for Sandra Oh and Bret Michaels) to try to engage people to ‘Test’ their blood sugar more often.  dLife had already changed their ‘Know your Number’ to ‘Test, Don’t Guess’ in print work but to run a PSA, more thought had to be considered.  So you know how difficult this process can be; while figuring the entire process, Paula (Producer colleague) and I agonized over the use of the word ‘test’ and not ‘check’ for over a week before we bought it to dLife Creator Howard Steinberg for approval and air time; the deciding factor–they are not called ‘check-strips’ they are called ‘test-strips’.  So as simple and low-budget as it was; we ran with this spot (edited together by the incredible Holleran Media Productions) which, as many now know, became an award-winning spot (Telly Award).

test don't guess

With the recent announcement of the new IDF PSA; the DOC was not short of opinions chiming in about the spot; but that’s easy.  To look at something and say; “Fabulous’, “Realistic”, “Horrible’, “Seriously?”, and many more comments both pro and con; well that is the easy part of the commercial.  Whether you like something or not, well that is your opinion.

So here is the challenge.  By replying to this article, start to tell me what ‘your perfect’ diabetes commercial would be.  The more exact you make it, the better the understanding; so be specific.  If we can come to one unified concept, I will check with ‘some friends’ I still have and see if they can produce the spot (no promises, but I will try–I’m also not a big fan of animated, or cartoon, spots; just so you know).  Of course if someone out there knows someone who knows someone who would love to be involved…..shoot me an email.  😉

The spot needs to be engaging, thirty seconds in length, edgy enough to be talked about but not edgy enough to offend.  It can be funny, dramatic, poignant, and focused.  It must be focused.  You have one message to get across….what is it?

As you go through this process you will find that it is not as easy as it looks, or you may even think it to be.  Now I know that it ‘is not your job’ to create a PSA or a commercial, but if you had an opinion on the IDF spot, you should be able to relay what you would duplicate or what you would not duplicate.  Post your thoughts here and also feel free to comment on each other’s work.   It will be like ‘we’ are the agency creating the spot.  A little diabetes ‘Mad Men’ as it were.

Have a feel of what this process is like, and let’s see if we can come to a resolve on what the spot should look like. 

Okay………..Lights!  Camera! Action!   Rollllllllll ’em……………….

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Share with College Students Everywhere……..YOU MUST Register by MAY 15th!!!!


attentionIF you know any college student with diabetes; please make sure they know about this incredible weekend.  May 31-June 2nd —-get to the event in Tampa and $85 COVERS EVERYTHING.  Open to anyone 18-30.


Calling all College Students and Young Adults living with Type 1 diabetes! Nicole Johnson, Students with Diabetes Founder and Miss America 1999, invites you to the 2013 Students With Diabetes National Conference.  

It is an amazing weekend of fun, inspiration and education specifically designed for you and your Type 3′s.  We’ll be going to the beach, enjoying some amazing water activities and you never know what else Nicole may have planned for you.  Don’t miss this exciting time of networking, learning more about your diabetes reality and building friendships that will last a lifetime.

Register now and join us for a great time on the water in Tampa, Florida.


Ms. Johnson, led by her own personal and incredible journey with diabetes, created this incredible group.  The dream of the organization began with the diagnosis of a college student at USF in 1993. That college student was told to drop out of school, give up on her career dreams and live a predictable [boring] life.

That student was Nicole Johnson.

Today, Nicole is the Executive Director of Bringing Science Home. (And she was also Miss America 1999.) Students With Diabetes is devoted to understanding the challenges facing students and young adults and strategizing ways to meet those challenges, allowing them to succeed. The goal of Students With Diabetes is to grow into nationwide organization offering membership to students and young adults across the country. It is imperative that students and young adults living with diabetes have the opportunity to connect with others like them and to learn about how to address diabetes in real life. For us, this is the starting point for a successful adult life with diabetes – something all students and young adults deserve.

GET There.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’


An Injustice (well….in a fun kinda way). :)

BasketI observed a huge injustice recently that I would like to bring to your attention.  This, the Easter Holiday among those who believe, leaves me under the absolute belief that the chicken does all the work this holiday season and the bunny gets all the credit.

There are eggs everywhere; dyed, chocolate, marshmallow….the egg is the center of the Easter Universe when it comes to treats and yet it is the chocolate idolatry of a rabbit that sits and adorns the basket come Easter Morning.  Why?  It’s unfair.

The biggest marshmallow treats of the season is called PEEPS (which, every year, also makes me think of my good friends John and Nicole—GIANTS in this diabetes battle), a sound made by a baby chick.  One report states that 700 million of these are sold at this time of the year.  PEEPS……not some nose-itching name that only a bunny could provide; PEEPS; after a baby chicken.

SO I think the chicken lovers of the world (hellllllo Purdue Family) should stand up and let the world know……….Bunnies at Easter–overrated; it is the chicken that carries all the weight.

And for your information 5 PEEPS (as in a chicken peep and not a rabbit peep because rabbits don’t make a peep, although there are rabbit PEEPS which is a complete distortion of everything; but I’ll save that story for another time) total 36g of carbohydrates and 34g of sugar according to their packaging.

Now if you do not give a hop about all of this than enjoy the holiday for what it means.  To us as Christians, it is the representation of the time when eternal death was beaten forever when Jesus rose from the dead.  Anyone could have died but it was the rising from the dead the beat eternal death once and for all for all who believe.

Spring showing new life, just as that special Easter morning, is a time for renewal and growth for new things in life.  Let us remember during this time that our drive for what is right in this diabetes world of ours far, AND I MEAN FAR, outweigh the differences.

Let’s remember that this spring.

And when we come out in unison for what we believe; the world hears a lot more than just a ‘PEEP’ out of our collective voices.

Happy Easter to you and yours.

I am a diabetes dad.  

Please hop to my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

Miss America????…..We Already Have Ours Thank You.

Nicole JohnsonDid you see the Miss America Pageant on Saturday night?  I’m not afraid to admit it, I did.   Not merely for the talent (which was fun), not for the gowns (really… could they not look gorgeous in gowns), not for their answers which the judges threw at them (I have to admit, the questions this year were pretty bold), and not even for the swim suits (I mean really……they’re competing for Miss America,do you expect any of them to look bad in a swimsuit?).   Not for any of these reasons, nope.

I watch to hear what the platforms are for each Miss America contestant.  According to the Miss America Website a platform for the contestants has been required since 1989.
“…..requires each contestant to choose an issue about which she cares deeply and that is of relevance to our country. Once chosen, Miss America and the state title holders use their stature to address community service organizations, business and civic leaders, the media and others about their platform issues…..”

I find these ‘platforms’ extremely interesting.  Can one woman actually change a world advocating something that is personal to her.  I admit I am a tad spoiled because as I watched this year’s show, I know one person did just that……changed the world.

How many times have we seen a celebrity who is somehow touched by diabetes?  Themselves perhaps, or a loved one who battles diabetes, and what is our first thought: how much of a difference they could make if they utilized their feelings into a ‘diabetes platform’ like is done with Miss America.  And to be truthful, many have.

But if you think about it, when it comes to this type of public awareness, or trying to draw attention to a cause, one person still stands alone in heroic efforts for a sustained long period of time.  And coincidentally, she is also a Miss America.

In our world of trying to enlist someone with notoriety to help us gain attention in the grand world stage about diabetes, Nicole Johnson’s (Miss America 1999) efforts are tireless to say the least.  She has understood the word ‘AND’ more than most who are in the limelight.  Many have pursued their platform as a ‘sidenote’, Ms. Johnson has made it her life’s passion.

Her list of accomplishments as spokesperson, advocate, and lecturer are clearly not of the thought process that it needs to be this organization OR that organization.  It is this organization AND that organization AND that organization.  She has traveled the world with a unified voice that diabetes ‘will just not do’ in this world.

You can read about all of her efforts at her website, Nicole

Her first hand of experience of living with diabetes captures your attention and yet, it is seeing her on one knee speaking to a little girl after placing that majestic crown upon her head that captures your heart.  Ms. Johnson is not afraid to tackle huge issues on Capitol Hill and in State Legislations around the United States, but she also knows how to calm the fears of what a little girl must feel in a world of such unknowns with diabetes.  A global approach to a personal life; and she does both better than anyone I’ve ever met.

She will travel anywhere to discuss diabetes, and will also go to a war zone to let soldiers know a homeland has not forgotten them.   She can take on big ideas but also help small hands to grasp a crown of jewels.  She has the same impact speaking to ten thousand as she does one-on-one. Clearly someone forgot to tell Ms. Johnson that her hectic schedule could calm down a little after her first year of Miss America.  In this human dynamo’s life, her hectic schedule only increased.

So this past weekend was the Miss America Contest in Las Vegas; the diabetes community has their own Miss America and has had her since 1999; and we thank her for all she has done…….and I have a feeling she has only just begun; and aren’t we lucky.

I am a diabetes dad

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