11/10/2011 02:19 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2012

Dominique Dawes, Olympic Gymnast, Joins The Fight Against Diabetes

Fifteen years ago Dominique Dawes became the first African American to win an Olympic gymnastics individual event medal. Her epic stand-in for injured teammate Kerri Strug, won her the bronze metal at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta and propelled Dawes into to the international spotlight she continues to use to get the word out about health, wellness and, now, diabetes.

WATCH: Dawes' medal-winning performance.

Today, Dawes has become one of the newest advocates in the battle against diabetes, which plagues some 3.7 million African Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). (7 million Americans currently have diabetes and don't even know it, the ADA also reports.)

"With a history of diabetes in my family, I am aware of the severe effects of the disease and am very pleased to assist in educating Americans about the importance of early detection and appropriate treatment," Dawes said in a release announcing a partnership she's begun with Sweet'N Low brand sweetener, offering free diabetes screenings in New York City and Washington D.C. this month.

The screenings, which coincide with National Diabetes Awareness Month, will include a glucose test and questionnaire to identify symptom's and recognized risk factors, in addition to Dawes discussing the importance of healthy living.

Earlier this year, Dawes expressed her support for Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign and became Co-Chair of the President's Council on Fitness. She's also working on a business degree at George Washington University's Business School.

PHOTOS: Dominique Dawes then and now.