It was a glorious long New Year's weekend in Ft. Lauderdale at the CWD Family Support Weekend held at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort. Families from across the United States gathered for a weekend of sharing, support, education, and fun. It didn't hurt that the sun was shining, it was 80 degrees, and a gentle sea breeze kept the CWD kites afloat (thanks to the elementary and tween groups for a creative job well done – see the photos!).
The Family Support Weekend took a bit of a different format from usual. With well-seasoned CWD discussion facilitators and presenters at the helm of the schedule, the conference flowed much at its own pace. Interactive groups that were very interesting and engaging ran longer than planned (sometimes extending into meals and out on the beach in the afternoon), and break times were shorter. The youth program ran similarly, with some sessions extending longer because the children were so engaged and having so much fun. The children's groups also combined for some of the activities, with teens, tweens, elementary, and childcare all mixing with each other at some point during the weekend. Kudos to our very talented age group leaders and staff for a very smooth weekend for the children of all ages.
The weekend was all about support, and that particular feeling was tangible during sessions, discussions, meals, and afternoons together on the beach. Many thanks to our fabulous faculty – Jill Weissberg-Benchell, Korey Hood, Gary Scheiner, Jeff Hitchcock, Jim Vail, Bob Bulgarelli, and Natalie Bellini for their leadership, flexibility, and ability to work with all ages. This made the conference feel seamless. Many thanks as well to Neil Benchell (aka Balloon Man and Kite Man) for bringing his talent and humor to the kids and parents alike.
CWD dietitian Mike Schurig once again spent months pulling together some great, healthy menus (including portion sizes and carb counts) for all of our meals. He created a wonderful gluten free buffet at each meal for those who needed them. It always amazes the hotel management and dietary staff that we spend so much time and effort on this particular facet of our conferences ... but it is probably the most important thing that makes families feel safe about spending the weekend at a CWD event. So, kudos to Mike for another job well done!
Many thanks are due to our wonderful sponsors: Animas Corporation, LifeScan, JDRF, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi-Aventis. Many thanks also to Dex4 for providing glucose tabs for the duration of the conference and ensuring that no one was lacking in glucose supplies! We hope that you all had the opportunity to interact with our CWD parents and kids, exchange ideas, and experience our CWD community. We simply could not do this without your support.
As always, our CWD staff and volunteers deserve a standing ovation: Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, Sunshine Abel, Marissa Hitchcock, Adam Town, Carolyn Billetdeaux, Sam Billetdeaux, Grace Grande-Cassell, Carolyn Meredith, Brenda Hitchcock, Monica Lanning, Sierra Abel, Justin Abel, Brandy Schmidt, Natalie Bellini, Jim Vail, Rich Meredith, Chelsea Meredith, Jeff Schmidt, Julia Mattingly, Mary Babin, Kelsey Martin, Caroline Smits, Wendy Smits, Lynn Smits, and Seth Bryant. You are all worth your weight in gold.
CWD teens and tweens during one of their sessions, outside in the warm Florida sun
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The sun over the horizon -- just as beautiful as in Marco Island, but in the morning instead, and thus no group photo -- almost everyone was still sleeping!
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