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Miss Fitzgerald 

Charleigh Harper

representing Fitzgerald, Georgia, on the road to Miss Georgia 2023

About Me

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 18, which is kind of a rare scenario considering Type 1 Diabetes is also considered “ juvenile diabetes,” and is usually caught in early stages of childhood. During my first semester at college, I lost about 25 pounds, couldn’t eat and constantly felt like I was having an anxiety attack. I knew that something was wrong after I continued to feel this way for a few weeks. My aunt (who luckily used to work at a doctor’s office) told me to prick my finger to check my sugar. The glucose monitor read “HIGH”, my aunt knew at this point whatever was going on was serious. My mom and my aunt rushed me to the hospital and told them to check my sugar. The doctor came back and said “ Your sugar is in the 1,000s. We need to get you admitted to the hospital immediately.” I later found out I was about to go into cardiac arrest and that was why I had been feeling like I was having an anxiety attack. I was able to go home after a week in the hospital. That day in October 2021 changed my life in so many ways.


The physical changes that followed were pretty easy to deal with. To be able to manage my diabetes, I had to be very careful about what I ate, exercise regularly and even give myself insulin shots. What wasn’t so easy to handle were the changes in my mental health.


Before my diagnosis, I loved myself and my life. I was happy and pretty carefree. But when I became labeled “diabetic”, I felt like my body had betrayed me. All of a sudden, I felt like a different person. I became depressed and angry. It was almost like a part of me died, and I was grieving my old life. After about six months, my parents sat me down because they could tell I was really struggling with my new life. I didn’t seem like myself anymore, and they were worried. And if I’m honest, I was worried, too. I knew it was time for me to do things differently. I went through old photographs, looking at my life before diabetes. Seeing myself so happy with my friends and family reminded me of what was really important. I wanted my old self back.


I began focusing on making healthier choices, both for my body and my mind. I got back to exercising, eating foods that were good for me and taking my medication properly. I also made sure I talked about all of the feelings I was having about my diagnosis. I stopped being in denial about it, and started viewing it in a more positive way. I knew I couldn’t be the only person going through something like this, so I wanted to find a way to help others who might also be struggling with a major health-related life change. Working with the Miss America Organization has given me a platform to try and reach those people. It’s taught me that everything happens for a reason, that even things that seem terrible can be turned into something positive. 

My Community


I am so proud to represent Fitzgerald and South Central Georgia. The platform that Miss Fitzgerald, and the Miss Georgia and Miss America organizations have given me has truly been a gift. The best part has been meeting so many amazing people in my community. Be sure and follow me on social media to join in on my journey.

Diabetes Education

I'm passionate about sharing my experience of living with Type I diabetes.

Education and awareness are crucial to living a full life with diabetes.

Check out these resources for more information.


American Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes for those affected by it through research funding, community services, education and advocacy.

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Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation

Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF focuses on research and advocacy to improve lives today and tomorrow by accelerating life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications.


Check out this helpful guide from the Centers for Disease Control for parents. It offers tips on managing Type I diabetes in children.

Charleigh answers questions from kids

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