Mrs. Alaska International 2012 Brandy Wendler, who has celiac disease, played major role in legislation.
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell has signed a resolution (SCR 16) to proclaim May 2012 as Celiac Disease Awareness Month.
Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, an advanced nurse practitioner, sponsored SCR 16 after being approached by a constituent of hers, Brandy Wendler, also a nurse practitioner, who was diagnosed 4 years ago. Together, they wanted to bring greater public awareness to a disease that is much more common than many realize, and often goes undiagnosed.
“I appreciate the Governor signing off on SCR 16,” Sen. Giessel said. “Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder which results in a variety of digestive symptoms. It is frequently misdiagnosed, based on its symptoms, and can lead to malnutrition and other health problems in a person who is suffering from it.”
Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, also a registered nurse, carried the resolution in debate on the House floor. “Even as a nurse I was surprised at the high percentage of people with celiac disease that aren’t aware they have it,” Rep. Wilson said. “I believe that this resolution will heighten awareness to reduce this percentage. I was proud to be a cross-sponsor of this important resolution.”
“Our goal is to help Alaskans by increasing public awareness of this under-diagnosed disease,” Sen. Giessel said. “It’s amazing how many Alaskans have talked to me about having celiac disease since I introduced this resolution. Extrapolating from national estimates, there are probably 5,000 Alaskans who could have celiac disease, most of them unaware of what’s causing their symptoms, and who could be helped by a heightened awareness of it.”
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) congratulates Brandy, Sen. Giessel and Rep. Wilson on this achievement.
For more National Celiac Awareness Month activities, see www.CeliacCentral.org/celiac-awareness-month-2012