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Local model promotes active lives for diabetics

Alaina Riley, a 16-year-old rising senior at Colquitt County High School, has continued to model dresses for Michelle’s Formal Wear in Adel and to be involved in many other community activities while managing her Type 1 diabetes.

Alaina recently had a big milestone; her 10-year “diaversary” was on May 20, 2023 (meaning she has been living with T1D more than 10 years now). Alaina confidently wears her Omnipod 5 tubeless insulin pump, along with a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor, to help make prom and other special events look more inclusive via her recent endeavors modeling dresses for Michelle’s. She wants to encourage people with diabetes as well as those who wear their medical devices in public. 

She said her advice to young people with Type 1 diabetes – which is incurable, but is treatable and manageable – would be “it gets better and to not be self-conscious about diabetes. If you have to wear an insulin pump, be confident and show it off.” She added that she knows young diabetics are going through struggles right now, but they should be uplifted by there being “a whole community of diabetics” who are enjoying life to its fullest.

Alaina was first diagnosed with T1D while she was in first grade, during May 2013. She was released to deal with diabetes after a week in the hospital. The Riley family moved back to Moultrie after residing in middle Georgia for many years.

Alaina learned how to watch her diet and count her carbs. When first diagnosed, she had to take shots, but medical technology has improved so now she has more freedom. The insulin pump and glucose monitor communicate and work together to regulate her blood sugar. She and her mom and dad may view her glucose levels via an app.

As an advocate for others with Type 1 diabetes, Alaina created the Instagram page “@alainagotdiabetes” during May of her freshman year at high school. She has shared her ups and downs while living with diabetes, from getting her pump to participating in such activities as modeling, indoor rock climbing, and snowboarding.

Managing T1D has allowed Alaina to be an active member of the Colquitt County FFA and pursue her interest in welding. She has enjoyed building “super friendships” with other young people with T1D while attending diabetes summer camps. 

After high school graduation, Alaina plans to attend Valdosta State University and earn a degree in psychology. 

Alaina and her family are members of Moultrie First United Methodist Church. She said she prays for the strength to deal with her condition: “I put my trust in God.”

Alaina thanked all who have supported her through her journey, the doctors and nurses, especially the latter working for the Colquitt County School District; her friends; and Andi Dickerson with Michelle’s Formal Wear and Michelle. Alaina is grateful to her family, including her parents Jason and Nancy Riley, brothers Mitchell and David, and sister-in-law Cassidy.  

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