Wednesday was Focus Group Day at the conference. Over thirty focus groups were offered by conference sponsors, and included a very wide and exciting range of topics from Starting Your Own Support Group to Finding Your Online Voice. The focus groups were limited to about 50 participants per group, so they were very interactive and lively. Additionally, quite a few adults with type 1 participated in focus group day. They comprised a new and significant addition to the conference, and we were really happy to have them spend some time at Friends for Life. Many thanks to the focus group leaders as well as the participants for getting an early start on the conference!
Caregivers Boot Camp made its debut on Wednesday. This half day camp – offered in both the morning and afternoon – was led by CDE Heather Speer and Grandparents Rachele and Bruce Baccaro, with lots of hands-on help from other 'Grands' who have been part of CWD conferences for years. The purpose of the Caregivers Camp was to offer practice and support for the basic skills involved in diabetes management such as checking blood glucose levels, giving injections, and administering glucagon. Both morning and afternoon sessions were well-attended, the feedback was wonderful, and we will be offering this once again next year.
Race car driver Charlie Kimball – along with his race car – joined families on Wednesday morning for a very inspirational presentation, followed by a meet-n-greet, autographs, and photos. Thank you to Novo Nordisk for sponsoring Charlie to spend the morning with us.
Olympic Cross Country Skier Kris Freeman also met with families on Wednesday morning, thanks to the sponsorship of Eli Lilly and Company. Kris talked with kids about his experience in the Olympics, his challenges during those events, and how he overcame them. Kris also signed autographs and posed for photos with conference participants.
Exhibitors continued to set up their booths all day Wednesday under the supervision of CWD's Ash Head, and the last few Quilt squares were added in the Exhibit Hall. Throughout the day, the registration area was buzzing as well. Teams of registration volunteers kept Cypress Registration running efficiently, and by the end of the day, nearly all registration packets had been picked up and everyone was accounted for! Many thanks to Registration volunteers Belinda Peach, Audrey Finkelstein, John Meiser, Mike Bassett, Leslie Altman, Lynet Fox, Chris Joynes, Carolyn Meredith, Kelly Meo, Midge McBryant, Ann Glassgow, and Outi Cornette who supported the Registration team all day – through 9:00 in the evening!
Nabil Elarbi, Lauren Lanning, and Tom Karlya coordinated the First Timers Welcome area on Wednesday; it was staffed by many teens, tweens, and parents who simply wanted to extend a warm welcome to those attending Friends for Life for the very first time. The First Timers Reception, attended by about 600 parents and kids, was held on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 in the giant Crystal G ballroom. Tom Karlya and Nabil Elarbi welcomed the first timers to the reception, introduced Jeff Hitchcock and Laura Billetdeaux for some quick hellos and comments, and then led fun ice-breaker activities to help everyone get to know one another. Sanofi-Aventis sponsored this wonderful event for the fourth straight year, and they welcomed First Timers as they arrived. Many thanks, Sanofi-Aventis!
Teens had their own very fun reception led by CWD teen coordinators Galen Horton, Natalie Bellini, and Jim Vail. There were 300 teens at Friends for Life this year (equaling last year's largest number ever), with roughly 100 of them being first-timers. Teens divided into two groups – younger teens ages 13-14 and older teens ages 15-17. The teen ice breakers encouraged everyone to make friends and talk to each other, because Thursday morning was right around the corner, starting right at 8:45 with the keynote!
By 5:00, under the supervision of CWD dad Ashley Head, the exhibit hall in Cypress 2 and 3 was just about ready for the Grand Opening Reception. The red ribbon was hung ceremoniously across the entrance unit to the main doors -- and the giant scissors were ready to go. By a few minutes before 6:00, the crowd of well over 1,000 people filled the prefunction space and spilled down the hallway. Right at 6:00, Pumpy – along with the ACCU-CHEK team and leader Dannielle Patterson, and CWD's Laura Billetdeaux - welcomed conference participants. The kids counted down the ribbon-cutting ... and with that – the exhibit hall opened and the conference was officially underway! Many thanks to Roche Diagnostics for sponsoring this incredible grand opening reception for yet another year!
Wednesday's focus groups offered families a chance to share their ideas with companies, meet Kerri Sparling and Amy Tenderich to learn how to become part of the online diabetes community ...
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... and get an update from Aaron Kowalksi on JDRF's Artificial Pancreas Project
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With the help of dad Bennet, Kelley and Connor interviewed families for their project, theBetes:NOW.
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With 6pm approaching, the crowd had gathered at the front of the exhibition hall
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