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Miss America to Attend Diabetes Event

October 02, 1998|ANN CONWAY and CHRISTINE CASTRO

In a fund-raising coup pulled off by 11-year-old Mallory Ross of La Habra Heights, newly crowned Miss America Nicole Johnson will make her first public West Coast appearance during an Oct. 10 benefit at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

Johnson, 24, of Virginia, will speak at the fashion show, a benefit for the Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes Research and Education (PADRE) foundation of Children's Hospital of Orange County.

Mallory never dreamed she'd have something in common with Miss America.

But when Johnson won the title last month, Mallory learned they shared a diagnosis: juvenile diabetes.

Mallory e-mailed the beauty queen, inviting her to attend the fashion show as her guest.

She did not think Johnson would reply. "But if she could," Mallory said, "I thought it would be neat to have her there."

The Miss America Foundation asked Mallory to forward information on PADRE, a nonprofit organization that has raised $3 million for diabetes research and education since 1985.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Mallory, who will make her modeling debut in the show, is now a bit of a hero at the PADRE office.

"They were saying how excited they were and that they were proud of me," Mallory said.

Mallory, who goes to Diamond Point Elementary School, looks and acts like a typical sixth-grader. Her bedroom walls are plastered with Backstreet Boys posters; she loves to go to the beach and swim in her backyard pool, and she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up.

If she could talk to other children diagnosed with diabetes, she said, she would tell them not to be afraid.

"You don't really need to worry, because you can lead a normal life," Mallory said.

After her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7, Mariellen Ross said representatives of PADRE were there "on the spot."

"Mallory had the classic, sudden onset of diabetes, which means she went from not being diabetic to becoming insulin-dependent in a matter of weeks.

"PADRE board members even brought their diabetic kids to the hospital to show Mallory that diabetes is not scary--that she could handle it."

Like Miss America, Mallory wears a Mini-Med pump that distributes insulin to her body. "When Mallory eats a snack or meal, she gives herself insulin through the pump--presses it for the number of units of insulin she needs based on the number of carbohydrates she is going to eat," her mother said.

PADRE provided the Ross family with information about diabetes. "The education they provide is the fabulous part," Ross said. "We knew zero."

For fashion show tickets, call (714) 532-8330.

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