Junior Miss Cullman County Fair Princess Brooklyn Shaw champions diabetes platform

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Brooklyn Shaw donates a box of supplies to the Vanderbilt Eskind Pediatric Diabetes Clinic. (Shanda Shaw)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Junior Miss Cullman County Fair Princess Brooklyn Shaw takes her platform, Tiaras for Type 1, seriously.

“This platform is very dear to her heart and ours. Her diagnosis changed her life forever, but she wants to give back,” her mother, Shanda Shaw, said. “We couldn’t be more proud of her.”

After being diagnosed with diabetes at a young age and overcoming the pre-teen obstacles that are compounded by a complex medical diagnosis, Brookly Shaw saw a chance to combine her passions for inclusivity and health with pageantry. She and her mother jumped at the chance.

On June 24, exactly two years since she was diagnosed, the middle-school princess brought her philanthropy platform to life by taking a box of collected and donated medical equipment and supplies used for treating Type 1 diabetes, (as well as comfort items to soothe and relax anxious patients) to the clinic that helps her manage the lifelong disease – the Vanderbilt Eskind Pediatric Diabetes Clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

“She was able to drop off another box of donations on her ‘diaversary’ while representing her Junior Miss Cullman County Fair Princess title,” said Shanda Shaw, who explained what “diaversary” means: “It’s a day to celebrate making it through another year of all the highs and lows, the finger sticks, the long nights, the stares from people who don’t understand your diagnosis and all the pump site changes.”

Brooklyn Shaw is one of countless individuals living with Type 1 diabetes controlled through a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). She and her mother match her CGM with themes and colors, transforming it into an accessory to whatever pageant look is worn for the evening. The visible monitor allows her to share her experience and story with the disease, and she often creates bonds and friendships when other CGM users are spotted at pageants.

Her mom smiled and said, “She loves it when she meets other diabetic contestants. It’s her favorite. Especially if it’s a younger girl who might need some encouragement about not being afraid to walk out with her head held high with her CGM and insulin pump on display.”

Collecting the items is no small feat for the teen, who looks to family, friends and community members to provide the much-needed goods for the clinic.

“Their biggest needs at the moment are medical bags, adhesives for CGMs and pods, stress balls and stuffed animals,” said Shanda Shaw.

Soon, multiple drop-off locations for donations will be available, with the soonest coming to Good Hope Pharmacy.

Brooklyn Shaw speaks about the disease and life outcomes at every opportunity she is afforded to spread awareness about diabetes, whether in a school, public or pageant setting. Her main message is, “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“Having diabetes is not going to hold her, or anyone else, back,” her mom said.

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