Miss Iowa teaches third graders about Type 1 diabetes

T-R PHOTOS BY LANA BRADSTREAM — Miss Iowa Alysa Goethe, 24, speaks to the third grade students at Franklin Elementary on Wednesday. Goethe, a Type 1 diabetic, has been advocating for Type 1 diabetics during her reign.

Third grade students at Franklin Elementary got a lesson in Type 1 diabetes on Wednesday during a visit from Miss Iowa Alysa Goethe.

Goethe, 24, a Type 1 diabetic, was contacted by Franklin Counselor Dani Minkel. After third grade student Estelle Halsted, 9, was diagnosed with the disease four months ago, Minkel wanted to help the classmates get a better understanding of it. As the first Miss Iowa with Type 1 diabetes, Goeth said she enjoys teaching about it.

Diagnosed with Type 1 12 years ago, she said she was the only one in a class of 400 students when she was growing up.

“For me, it runs in my family,” Goethe said. “My dad, my grandma and my older brother all have Type 1 diabetes. But that doesn’t always happen. For some people, they might be the only person in their family that lives with it. That can be really hard because it can make you feel really alone.”

The experience was isolating in the beginning, she said. Goethe faced bullying as a result and discrimination from society.

Franklin Elementary third grader Estelle Halsted, 9, shows off her continuous glucose monitor with Miss Iowa Alysa Goethe on Wednesday. Goethe came to the school to speak about Type 1 diabetes with the third grade.

“There were misunderstandings and misconceptions thrown my way,” she said. “It was a big challenge.”

Despite that reality, Goethe rose to meet the challenge and said she would not change anything. She asked the students what they knew about Type 1 already. Hands flew up and statements such as, “It can go away,” “You have to take medicine,” and “You have to make sure you don’t eat too much sugar” were shared by students.

Utilizing a children’s book entitled “Hank and His Cranky Pancreas” by Rylan Gray, Goethe read the story of a 10-year-old boy getting diagnosed and discovering it is not that scary. The students learned despite the diagnosis, Hank could still play soccer and do karate.

She told the students one of the important things for Hank was the help he received from friends, because sometimes Type 1 can be easy, but also challenging.

“The first thing to being a good friend is being kind,” Goethe said. “We say empathy.”

She asked the students what are some ways they could show kindness. Students said they could open doors for others, help someone up when they fall and say nice things. At that, Goethe asked the students to stand up, find a partner and say something nice.

After the short activity, Goethe asked the third graders if they should negatively react when they see someone give themselves a shot. Injections are a daily occurrence for Type 1 diabetics if they are not on an insulin pump.

“It might be scary for them to give themselves a shot,” she said. “I still get scared sometimes when I have to give myself a shot and I have had diabetes for 12 years.”

Goethe told them another thing they could do to be a good friend is to listen. To drive that emphasis home, she led them in a game of Miss Iowa Says. Saying nice things and listening will help them be a good communicator, a good friend and a good student. Goeth also led them in the Moana song “How Far I’ll Go.”

After Goethe’s presentation, she met with Halsted. The biggest challenge for Halsted has been managing the Type 1.

“And it’s hard because a lot of people ask me about it and I have to explain it,” she said.

Fortunately, Halsted’s older brother is also a Type 1 diabetic, so she was already familiar with the disease. It made spotting the symptoms easier for her family.

“When I was diagnosed, my blood sugar was 578,” she said. “I had a tummy ache, and I had a lot of sweets that day. My mom said we should check my blood sugar and see what it is.”

Halsted is adjusting to her new condition. Like most Type 1 diabetics, she already has a favorite thing to eat or drink when her blood sugar gets too low — Oreo cookies, apple juice or orange juice. For Goethe, her favorite low blood sugar fix is a granola bar or apple juice.

“My general message for the diabetes community is to never lose hope,” Goethe said. “We’re closer to a cure than we ever thought we would be. Don’t ever let it stop you from achieving your dreams. I never thought I would become Miss Iowa, but I have proven everything that I once thought wrong. Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from achieving things. One day, we can say, ‘I used to have diabetes’ and that will be the best day of my life.”


Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or



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