Teen Programming Staff
Brian Grant, BSN, RN, CDE, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He loves working with people who have diabetes, and is looking forward to serving as faculty at the Friends for Life Orlando conference. He currently resides in King of Prussia, PA, and works as a CDE at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with a focus on diabetes technology.
Kathryn Hitchcock, MS, sister of Marissa (dx’d at 2 years old), earned her Master’s in Nutritional Science degree at the University of Cincinnati in the summer of 2018. She is currently working through her dietetic internship so she can become a registered dietitian. She is the coordinator of the Research Task Force at Children with Diabetes, which focuses on discovering how CWD can improve quality of life and diabetes-related outcomes in people that use CWD and attend Friends for Life conferences. She also coordinates research at a charitable food pantry to assess how nutrition education affects eating behaviors in low-income adults. She is passionate about nutrition, especially related to diabetes. After she finishes her dietetic internship, she plans to become a registered dietitian and work with individuals with diabetes.
Hannah Opdenaker is excited to wear a green bracelet again this summer with some of her favorite "diabesties." Hannah was diagnosed with type 1 at age 3 in 1999, and has been attending CWD conferences since 2001. She has just graduated with a B.A. in Theatre and Political Science from Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Hannah is a stage actress with a focus in dance and contemporary movement. Offstage, Hannah is a proud dog mom to Ruby, Bella, and Atticus. Hannah plans to pursue a Master's Program in Theatre Education, and begin teaching theater in under developed urban settings, proving that nothing can stop you from pursuing your passions - even diabetes.
Tween Programming Staff
Kenny Rodenheiser, BSN, RN, CDE, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. Through his involvement with CWD, ADA, JDRF and other local organizations, he realized his passion is to help people with diabetes learn about their disease and how to cope with it. He earned his Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Kenny earned his Certified Diabetes Educator in 2015 and currently works as a diabetes educator for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Amanda Borges is a Miami, Florida native who moved to New York in 2011 to attend New York University's Film and Television Production program. Since Graduating in 2015, she now works at NBCUniversal's Bravo Network, and lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend Ben Stroud, who was diagnosed with T1 Diabetes in 1998. She'll be working with the Tween Staff, and will be assisting with the Docu-Diabetes project.
Grace Grande-Cassell is very excited to be staffing her seventh year of Friends for Life conferences! She has grown up with a connection to type 1 diabetes because of her grandfather, who was diagnosed at age 14. Grace currently lives in New York City where she works in the fashion industry. She is so happy to be helping at another conference.
Elementary Programming Staff
Sunshine Abel, LPN, is the mother of Sierra and Sailor. She attended her first Friends for Life® Conference with her family in 2002, after Sailor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2. Sunshine immediately knew she had found a new family and a new home where kids were experiencing the same thing as Sailor. She then made it her mission to involve her whole family. Sunshine is continuing her education working toward her RN degree. Sunshine has been working as a nurse and leader in the Friends for Life® youth programming since 2006.
Timothy Hitchcock recently graduated with degrees in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Cincinnati. His older sister Marissa was diagnosed with type 1 in 1989. He began working with the elementary program in 2013 and loves everything about it.
Michelle Dao, BSN, RN, is 23 years old and has recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BSN in Nursing. She attended her first Friends for Life Orlando in 2015 as staff and can’t wait to work with her Elementary family again!
Christy Fry is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security though she's currently a Nutrition Care Coordinator for enteral therapy at Infusion Partners, a Bioscrip company. When she's not working, she likes to dirt bike and participate in other outdoor sports with her boyfriend, Trevor, who has had type 1 diabetes since he was 13. This will be Christy's first year helping with the Friends for Life conference and she could not be more excited.
Hannah Klippel was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of eight and attended her first Friends for Life Conference four months later. This will be her 10th year participating in Friends for Life Conferences! Hannah is an undergraduate student at the University of Florida majoring in Elementary Education and is excited to be a part of the Elementary Staff at Friends for Life! She is forever grateful for the resources CWD has provided her and her family. They have had a major impact on her daily life with type 1. Hannah considers her friends made through CWD her family, and she truly can't imagine her life without them. She hopes to give back to the Friends for Life family, as much as they have given her!
Child Care Programming Staff
Mary Babin, RN, BSN, CDE, has served as the childcare coordinator since the very first CWD conference. Mary leads a team of certified diabetes educators providing care and fun in a safe environment for kids under age five with and without diabetes. Providing this service alleviates the concerns of many parents of kids with diabetes – allowing them to attend the sessions with peace of mind knowing that their children are cared for by skilled professionals. This supports Mary's belief that education is the key to successful diabetes management. Mary has devoted her career to the world of medicine. As a graduate of Eastern University and Presbyterian School of Nursing, Mary currently works as a pediatric endocrine specialty nurse and has been a CDE over 20 years! This busy mom and devoted professional has been involved with CWD since 2001. You can spot her at the conferences-she's the one with the trail of kids behind her!
Helen Rodenheiser, wife of Kenny Rodenheiser, is a first grade teacher at Folsom Elementary School in New Jersey. She has been attending Friends for Life conferences as a Childcare staff member sine 2011. She brings the knowledge and resources she learns from CWD to help any and all children affected by diabetes in her school. Helen is currently working towards earning her Masters in Special Education.
Chris Delaney, BSN, RN, attended her first Friends for Life Conference after her daughter Molly was diagnosed with diabetes in March 2005 at the age of six. She has been a pediatric emergency department nurse for 14+ years and loves working with kids. She is also mom to Andrew, Elizabeth and Benjamin who have grown up with CWD.
Sibling Programming Staff
Sierra Abel is the older sister to Sailor Abel, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2001. Sierra attended her first Friends for Life conference with her family in 2002, where she was in the elementary group. She has now worked her way through all the programs, graduating from the teens at Friends for Life Orlando 2011. Sierra is excited to be a leader of the siblings group and be reunited with some of her best friends she calls "framily." She is now working on her masters in Social Work and hopes to become a Certified Diabetes Educator in the near future.
Denotes faculty or staff with diabetes
Friends for Life® Falls Church 2018 Conference Introduction - Registration - Sponsors Program - Youth Program - Faculty - Youth Faculty - CWD Staff FFL Falls Church Reports from 2017 - 2016
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