I heard on the news this morning that today is the birthday of Mary Tyler Moore, who’s long been the biggest celebrity advocate for people with Type 1 diabetes — which she herself has. It got me thinking about what a difference it can make to have someone famous advocate on your behalf (or, for that matter, come down with your disease). This is ridiculous in one way (shouldn’t I care about clean water in Africa without having Matt Damon involved?). But, on the other hand, it makes perfect sense: we care more about issues that we have a personal connection with — and as anyone who has stapled a Tigerbeat poster to their bedroom wall knows, humans are very good at creating imaginary relationships with people who are attractive and famous. So why not put that celebrity status to good use?
I was going to encourage more celebrities to take up the diabetes cause, but then realized that doing so might amount to wishing ill upon their immune systems — there’s a difference, after all, between advocating for clean water and advocating for a disease that you’re unlucky enough to have yourself. So instead, let me say that I am thankful that there are so many prominent people out there right now who happen to have Type 1 diabetes. Like Nick Jonas, for example. Or Sonia Sotomayor. Or, of course, Jay Cutler. (And there are other examples on the Type 2 side as well.)
So, in honor of Mary Tyler Moore’s birthday, I wanted to thank her and all the other celebrities out there who are using their fame to help educate people about and raise money for this disease. I’m very grateful.