Friday was a busy day – lots in the way of sessions and activities for adults and kids, and lots of social events in the evening! There were seven concurrent sessions at any given moment of Friday's educational track.
Several new speakers joined us on Friday. Kimberly Davis joined forces with Tom Karlya to present two sessions about diabetes advocacy, How to Talk to Your Congressperson and Advocacy Part 2: Next Steps. Additionally, Suzanne Harris talked with parents about What to Expect From Your School Lunch Program; she advised them not only what to expect, but what it was reasonable to request. In the research track, Desmond Schatz presented the latest findings on the topic of Prevention and Treatment at Onset.
There were several panels and discussions throughout the day. Rick Philbin and the Sports Central and Guest Athletes held a discussion for adults, and they also met with the different groups of children throughout the day. The athletes talked about their own challenges and type 1 diabetes management, shared some tips, and answered questions. Both adults and kids really enjoy interacting with these athletes, who truly live 'best practices' day to day so they can be at the top of their sport.
The moms discussion groups was packed as usual! CWD's Lauren Lanning and Michelle Rago, along with Barbara Anderson, facilitated the discussion groups which tended to be along the lines of 'age of child with type 1.' After the session, several moms had some great suggestions for next year's discussion – Michelle and Lauren are already looking forward to hearing everyone's input! The dads discussion was also an excellent opportunity for sharing ideas and challenges. Facilitators Tom Karlya and Stefan Rubin would love to hear feedback from the dads for next year's discussion group. Finally, Mike Schurig led a discussion about Celiac: Discussing the Challenges, Sharing Solutions. There were about 40 conference participants with celiac at this year's Friends for Life; this session was an opportunity for them to share strategies for living with celiac (and also a good forum for giving CWD ideas how to keep the gluten free menus interesting and delicious at our conferences).
There was a strong psychosocial component to the adults program on Friday. Bill Polonsky presented Helping vs Harping: Type 1 in the Teen Years, which was very well-received by parents of teens and frequently mentioned as a 'favorite session.' Many thanks to Roche Diagnostics for sponsoring Dr. Polonsky's session.
Joe Solowiejczyk, always very popular with CWD audiences, presented It's Not Just a Numbers Game. He reminded parents and adults with type 1 that life is about so much more than the number on the blood glucose meter. Joe reflected on growing up with type 1 and living/working as an adult with type 1. He stressed that diabetes management is never negotiable; you may not like it, but you have to do it, no matter what age you are. Joe and Paul Madden co-presented Where The Wild Things Are: Facing Your Fears. They discussed with parents those things that are sometimes most frightening when thinking about the future – watching your child grow up, become independent, and go out on their own. It's a double-edged sword; you want your child to grow up and be successful on their own, and yet it is so frightening to contemplate the things that go with that territory.
Jill Weissberg-Benchell again delved into the concept of Managing Transitions – this time with adults who have type 1 diabetes. Dr. Jill discussed with the group what some of the common transition challenges entail for adults, including living on your own, managing diabetes at work or college, managing relationships, and perhaps dealing with individual health insurance for the first time. During a separate session, Officer Jose Lopez shared his perspective as an adult with type 1 – he is a homicide detective lieutenant and needs to be at his best every day. He has had type 1 for 25 years and has experienced a lot of changes in diabetes care.
There were other Friday sessions along the lines of 'how do I do this?' Gary Scheiner presented Managing Hypoglycemia. Gary has a way of making the most difficult concepts very easy and straightforward for his listeners. A second thank you to Gary for doing this same session earlier on Wednesday for the young adults who were working the conference as staff and not able to come to this presentation. Rick Philbin helped sports-minded parents and adults make sense of their diabetes management in Sports and Pumping: Finding the Right Mix. Again, Rick is very hands-on and straightforward, and he helps make sense out of the most complex situations. Rick is CWD's Sports Coordinator, and we appreciate that he took the time away from Sports Central to have some discussion and problem-solving time. Kim Kelly further addressed exercise and diabetes in The Physiology of Exercise. Dr. Kelly presented the details of 'what happens physiologically during exercise' – very important to know for those who engage or whose children engage in sports.
Cardiologist Bob Bulgarelli joined us again this year for Heart Health Update, an overview of how to keep our hearts healthy, whether a person has type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or no diabetes at all. He led a second session on Stress Management. Dr. Bob supports holistic health, and managing stress is an integral part of that. He also offered morning meditations and yoga for those interested.
The Grands had quite a full day on Friday as well – four sessions with different topics of focus, and a final discussion group led by Richard Rubin. Again, many thanks to the Grands Team Heather Speer, Rachele and Bruce Baccaro, and the supporting 'helper Grands' who lent their hands, hearts, and energy to this day of learning and support.
Will Cross ended the adult program on Friday with the closing keynote: Reaching Your Personal Summit. Will has shared his expedition experiences with CWD families for years, and he is known as an incredibly inspirational speaker who brings his own experiences to every single person listening to him in the ballroom. He's a dad. He's a teacher. He's a climber of very tall mountains and a trekker to far away places. He's a person with type 1 diabetes, and he understands what each of our families takes on each day and what the 'personal summit' entails. Many thanks to Will for being with us, and to Novo Nordisk for sponsoring him to be in Orlando at Friends for Life.
The teens headed off on buses to Disney's EPCOT for a day in the park. While on the surface, this excursion may look like a Play Day, in reality there are many learning objectives in place for this outing. A lot of planning and responsibility goes into spending a full day in a hot park with lots of activity and other things to keep track of, and the teen staff encouraged the teens to be as independent as possible in managing the day. Teens checked in periodically with the staff at home base (the Odyssey Building) for a bg check and a 'once over' (for those without diabetes), and the day went very smoothly! Many thanks to the staff and chaperones for the day: Chris Tull, Jim Vail, Scott Nagel, Anna and Mark Troisi, Ben Loebner, Bob Schmidt, Stacey Estabrooks, Galen Horton, Bob Marquess, Adriana and Ken Rodenheiser, and of course huge thanks to Natalie Bellini, who coordinated and watched over the day. A special thanks to Marissa Hitchcock who worked with Natalie to organize the check-in process throughout the day.
The Tween Group had a very fun and interesting Friday, beginning with some Harold! Time and then some serious discussion for those with type 1 and discussion for siblings. Thanks to Carolyn Billetdeaux, Sierra Abel, Zak Elarbi, and Austin Martin for helping out with the sibling discussion groups at Friends for Life, and for always keeping front and center that 'Sibs are Important, Too!' After lunch, the tweens had Experiences sessions. In these smaller groups, they met with Kris Freeman, Jen Alexander, and Jackson the Dog (and his person Dr. Mike) to ask questions and hear about the speakers' experiences with living with type 1 diabetes. The tweens ended on a high note with Fun with DJ Miles!
The elementary group began their day with an arts-n-crafts project and a chance to meet with Kris Freeman. After break, they spent some time in Sports Central, meeting the athletes, hearing about how they manage their type 1 as they compete in sports, and then playing basketball, volleyball, and soccer with the Sports Central team. After lunch, Fun with DJ Miles! – always a highlight (for DJ Miles, too). The elementary program closed with opportunities for the children to meet three CWD VIPs up close – Jen Alexander, Team Type 1, and Jackson the Dog (and his person Dr. Mike).
Friday night was a big social evening, and a huge thank you right up front to the dozens of parents who assisted by helping with set-up and chaperoning the various events. Your help in keeping the activities safe and fun was invaluable! Chaperones and set-up crew included Neal and Carolyn Billetdeaux, Rich and Carolyn Meredith, Chris Joynes, Rachele and Bruce Baccaro, Mike Bassett, Leslie Altman, Marc Biondilillo, Jennifer Voss, Heather Mitchell, Sarah Tripp, Kristi Cox, Robyn Morgen, Cy Shaheen, Luther Boudoin, Renee Bergin, Georgia Spiropoulos, Anne Slivjak, Joan Taylor, Angela Morris, Fred and Jan Taylor, Lisa and Len Harvey, Catherine and Harry Schulz, Teresa Littlefield, and Chris Tull. You all were great chaperones, and we appreciate that you volunteered a few hours on your Friday night to help keep the events safe.
The teens held a very special Teen Dinner Dance – an Italian buffet and a fun DJ in the Crystal G ballroom, sponsored by Insulet Corporation. Most teens dressed up, and they were an absolutely beautiful group. At any given point in time through the evening, the dance floor was packed with teenagers having so much fun!
Next door in the Crystal J ballroom, the Tween group had their own Friday evening social – with karaoke and a surprise performance by two of our own CWD tweens Meg and Julia! The evening was fun and interactive, and the tweens appreciated all of the glowy, sparkly things on the tables and as personal decorations! Many thanks to the Tween Social sponsors sponsors, Medtronic Diabetes!
Tandem Diabetes Care organized the first-ever young adults dinner and social evening – and the feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. They so appreciated having a place where they could learn, network, have a great dinner and simply be together for a great meal.
Dessert with the Faculty was back for a third year! Again, feedback from parents was so positive – they truly appreciated the opportunity to chat with the presenters in a casual environment, chocolate covered strawberries and fresh cup of coffee in hand. Many thanks to DexCom for sponsorship of this evening.
Sports Central was opening until midnight on Friday, and it was a busy place for those who wanted a pick-up basketball game, or for those who simply wanted to run around (lots of running around – how could that be after DJ Miles and Harold!).
A big thank you to today's sponsors, faculty, staff, and volunteers, who enabled this extraordinary day to happen!
Friday at FFL is Teens to the Park Day -- this year it was EPCOT
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Dan Hurley, author of Diabetes Rising, met families and signed books at the Diamyd booth
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It's not as easy to check Jackson's blood glucose as it is our kids
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Will Cross poses after his closing presentation
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During Dessert with the Faculty, sponsored by DexCom, Cherie Stabler explained her most recent scientific poster
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Young adults had a great time at their dinner, sponsored by Tandem Diabetes Care
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The Teen Dance ... fun for all as always
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The Tween Social was filled with blinky flashy stuff
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