Back to CWD Events Marco Island 2010 Report

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New Year's Eve and a family conference with 250 of your best friends in a beautiful beachfront setting in Marco Island, Florida. Sunshine and warm weather (well, at least for the first 2 days). What could be a more positive way to begin 2010? In a bit of a conference shift, this CWD weekend event focused on Family Support instead of the scientific and best practices topics of earlier Marco Island conferences. The intent was to acknowledge that great management of type 1 diabetes begins with acceptance of and commitment to such fundamentals as communication and support within one's own family. And that was where we started.

Psychologist Jill Weissberg-Benchell, and family therapists Joe Solowiejczyk and Paul Madden, anchored the sessions for parents on Friday and Saturday, covering such topics as "Transitions," "Coping and Coming to Terms," and "Where the Wild Things Are" (referring to the fears that many families live with every day). The opening session, "It Takes a Village," stressed how important it is for everyone in the family including extended family and good friends to communicate and understand the challenges and tools of diabetes management.

Afternoons were spent on the beach CWD style! CWD had a portion of the beach reserved for our conference families, and we enjoyed kayaks, sailboats, shelling ... and sweatshirts by Saturday! It became downright chilly as the cold front blew in on Friday afternoon along with an hour of torrential rain, lightning and thunder, and 60 mph winds. Jill, Joe, Paul and Crystal Jackson moved their umbrella session discussion groups indoors for impromptu interactions; families enjoyed the unscheduled change of plans and opportunities to continue talking with and meeting each other and the CWD staff.

Exercise was an important component of the conference. Fitness Instructor Harold Sanco spent a good deal of time working directly with the children in their sessions, and everyone gained new appreciation for (sore) muscles we didn't know existed! It was hard work and lots of fun for all of the age groups! Exercise was also combined with discussion of 'how to feed the exercise in a healthy way.' Whether or not a person has type 1 diabetes, it is simply an important and healthy thing to do. Harold has become an integral part of our CWD conferences, and he truly enjoys working with our CWD families.

The children's sessions were also a great mix of discussion, hands-on learning, and active play. We try very hard to achieve just the right mix of 'serious' and 'fun' in our educational programs and our kids' faculty and staff have become quite good at this. Many thanks to them for a job well done. Favorite activities for the elementary group this year included a resort-wide scavenger hunt and kite-designing-building-flying. This year once again, the tween group had a very special treat a shelling excursion on the Calusa Spirit on Saturday morning! We hope to do that again next year, and we also hope to offer a 2nd excursion for the teen group.

On Saturday, the conference ended with an indoors beach BBQ and an evening of dancing to the music of DJ Gil with a couple hundred new good friends. The sunset was as glorious as always, and it made a great backdrop for family photos.

CWD dietitian Mike Schurig once again spent months pulling together some great, healthy menus (and 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, Eli Lilly & Company, 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 a lot of time 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, many thanks as well to our CWD staff and volunteers: Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, Marissa Hitchcock, Adam Town, Sam Billetdeaux, Carolyn Meredith, Trevor Tull, Kaitlyn Karlya, Melissa Ringley, Anne Sides, Brenda Hitchcock, Carolyn Billetdeaux, Kathryn Hitchcock, Brandy Schmidt, Natalie Bellini, Jim Vail, Galen Horton, Chris Tull, Nabil Elarbi, Rich Meredith, Jeff Schmidt, Neal Billetdeaux, Tom Karlya, Jill Karlya, Julia Mattingly, Ed Mattingly, Intissar ben Halim, Mary Babin, Kelsey Martin, and Chelsea Meredith. You are all worth your weight in gold.

Same time, next year. December 30, 2010 January 1, 2011. Please remember to make your travel plans early!

Many of the families met at the beach on Saturday for a group photo.

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  Children with Diabetes: Family Support Weekend

The weather was wonderful for the opening reception in the afternoon of New Year's Eve
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Our Three Musketeers -- Joe Solowiejczyk, Paul Madden, and Jill Weissberg-Benchell
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Chris, Brenda and Neal enjoyed the beach (with jackets)
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OK ... it was a bit chilly on the Tween Shelling Expedition
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