Being named Miss South Carolina is reason enough to keep a smile on Daja Dial’s face.
But the 2015 winner said she stays positive for her brother and other family members who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
In a packed room at the Aiken Municipal Building, Dial gave her personal testimony during the 16th annual Dining with Diabetes program – an event sponsored by The Diabetes Nutrition Teaching Center of Aiken Regional Medical Centers.
Dial is only 22 years old but has accomplished a lot including being named Miss South Carolina, Miss Clemson University during her time at the school and several other achievements.
But her journey on the right path started when she learned that her brother was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, she said.
After watching her brother struggle with the condition, Dial began using her platform to discuss the effects of diabetes and how to combat against diagnosed.
“This issue is very near and dear to my heart and it’s one that I try to educate people (on),” Dial said. “Diabetes is nothing to be embarrassed about – that’s one of the first things people should learn.”
A point she also stressed in a room of nearly 200 people is that overcoming obstacles like diabetes is about believing in oneself, a message that she also spreads to students.
“I’m here to serve this state,” Dial said. “Whether it’s schools, church groups, or rotary clubs or whatever … it’s my job to let people know I’m here and available to serve them,” Dial said.
Dial’s message was well received by many, including Dionne Fadibe, a resident who spent part of the event speaking with Todd Franke, the manager of cardiovascular services at Aiken Regional, and Vadra Wertz who works in the hospital’s emergency department.
Fadibe said she tries to attend the event every year to show and gain support from fellow diabetics. It’s also an opportunity to speak to some of the experts and gain insight from them, she added.
“It’s good to see if any new information on diabetes has come out and to see people who also have diabetes and share information with them,” Fadibe said.
Nancy Goslen, an official with the Diabetes Nutrition Teaching Center, added that the event is a special one year because it helps draw attention to National Diabetes Awareness Month.
“We like to provide information on diabetes and also show people how to eat healthy for the holidays,” Goslen said.
Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the paper since June 2013.
He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University.
Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.