Not all celebrities with diabetes have surmounted their obstacles, unfortunately. On January 4, 2010, 30-year-old Casey Johnson — heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune — was found dead at her home. Coroners reported her death to be diabetes-related and likely due to ketoacidosis; Johnson had a history of inadequate control over her diabetes, landing in the hospital at least twice for failing to take her insulin.
The socialite hadn’t always been neglectful of her illness. In 1994 she co-wrote a book called “Managing Your Child’s Diabetes” with her father Robert “Woody” Johnson, who developed a passion for treating the disease. Woody still serves as chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, paying homage to his late daughter and fighting for a cure.
Gary Hall, Jr.
Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. proved doctors (and himself) wrong in 2000, a year after he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and told that he would never again be able to compete at an Olympic level. That year, he took home his first individual gold medal by way of the 50-meter freestyle race, a feat he repeated in 2004. This success makes Hall more than an Olympic hero — it makes him a diabetic hero.
Hall is intensely involved in efforts to cure the illness that almost curtailed his career: his eponymously named Foundation for Diabetes supports cure-focused research, and he serves as a spokesperson for the Diabetes Research Institute [DRI]. “Diabetes doesn’t have to stand between you and your dreams, and that is why we are all here,” Hall said at a recent DRI fundraising benefit.
For more information on living well with type 1 diabetes, visit Everyday Health's Type 1 Diabetes Center.