Friday offered a wide variety of sessions – 13 in any given time slot. And Friday evening was the time for social events and relaxing with new-found friends! Psychosocial sessions continued to feature strongly on Friday. Joe Solowiejczyk, Paul Madden, and Korey Hood teamed up to present Our Leap of Faith: Believing in the Cure. This was a new topic, suggested last year by quite a few families who have been living a long time with type 1, yet still maintain a positive affirmation that there will be a cure. Other sessions included Family Teamwork in Diabetes Management (Barbara Anderson), Disordered Eating (Barbara Anderson), Dealing with Depression and Anxiety (Korey Hood), The Kids are Grown: How to Let Go (Jill Weissberg Benchell), and P is for Perfection and Knowing It's Not the Goal (Riva Greenberg sponsored by Roche Diagnostics).
Scientific sessions continued with a third presentation from the Diabetes Research Institute, Can We Prevent Type 1 Diabetes (Jay Skylar), New Onset Therapy: Why It Matters (Desmond Schatz), and Celiac: Overview and Update (Alessio Fasano).
Advocacy sessions were also featured on Friday, including How To Talk To Your Congressman, and Taking the Next Steps (Tom Karlya and Kimberly Davis), The Challenge of Employment Discrimination (John Griffin), and Being an Advocate for your Child with Type 1 at School (Crystal Jackson).
Two rooms on Thursday and Friday were dedicated to adults with type 1 (thank you, Insulet, for your sponsorship of these tracks). The topics were of interest both to adults with type 1 and to parents of older teens with type 1. Session highlights included Being a Parent with Type 1 Diabetes (Korey Hood), Burnout Happens (Joe Solowiejczyk), Finding Support Through Social Media (Kerri Sparling and Scott Johnson), Exercise: What it Does and Why (Kim Kelly), Managing Transitions as Adults (Jill Weissberg-Benchell), iDSM: Inspired Diabetes Self-Management (Riva Greenberg) and Diabetes and Pregnancy (Kerri Sparling).
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, Jacqui Double and Michelle Rago facilitated the discussion groups which tended to be along the lines of children's age groups. The dads discussion was also an excellent opportunity for sharing ideas and challenges. Facilitators Tom Karlya and Oliver Double would love to hear feedback from the dads for next year's discussion group. Both moms and dads groups shared that they could have used a double session for discussion time – there is so much to talk about! Finally, Dr. Alessio Fasano led a discussion about living with Celiac. There were about 35 conference participants with celiac at this year's Friends for Life; this session was an opportunity for them to chat with one of the world's leading experts about strategies for living with this condition.
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.
The Grands had quite a full day on Friday as well – three sessions with different topics of focus, including an Ask the Diabetes Team forum. Again, many thanks to the Grands Team Heather Speer, Rachele and Bruce Baccaro, Janet Schneeman, Richard Rubin, and the supporting 'helper Grands' who lent their hands, hearts, planning skills, and energy to this day of learning and support.
Ironman Triathlete Jay Hewitt closed the conference sessions with his keynote Finish Line Vision: Racing for Your Finish Line. Jay – an incredible athlete, speaker, and dad – had the audience on the edge of their seats as he related stories of his training, competition, and victories. Key messages: Failing is just part of the process ... you'll grow only if you take on something hard enough for you to fail at (sometimes you fail, sometimes you conquer) ... and always consider "How bad do you want this?" (words that his trainer shouted to him as he hit the wall in the last leg of a marathon).
The teens headed off on buses to Disney's Hollywood Studios 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 Hollywood Hideaway 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, Ben Loebner, Bob Schmidt, Marissa Hitchcock, Galen Horton, Bob Marquess, Adriana and Ken Rodenheiser, and of course huge thanks to Natalie Bellini, who coordinated and watched over 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 for facilitating the sibling discussion group 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 Kendall Simmons, Rear Admiral Kenneth Moritsugu, and Jackson the Dog (and his person Dr. Mike). The tweens asked some excellent questions and learned about the speakers' experiences 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, All About Me. 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 – Kendall Simmons, Kenneth Moritsugu, and Jackson.
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 (and thank you to Betty Smith, Volunteer Coordinator, for taking the lead on this extremely busy evening). Your help in keeping the activities safe and fun was invaluable! Chaperones and set-up crew included Rich and Carolyn Meredith, Chris Joynes, Cindy DiCanio, Bruce and Julie Baccaro, Karen and Dave Heffelfinger, Muriel and Bill Dollins, Brandy and Jeff Schmidt, Outi Cornette, Karen Pardonner, Jane Hunsche, Heather Mitchell, Jan and Fred Taylor, Sean Pitt, Rhonda Park, Belinda Peach, Teresa Littlefield, Sherri-Lynn Wiedermann, Tara and Dan Goldstein, Joanna Goldsmith, and Terri and Mark Gilfillan.You all were great setter-uppers and chaperones, and we appreciate that you volunteered a few hours on your Friday night to help make these events for our kids successful.
The teens held a very special Teen Dinner Dance – an Italian buffet and DJ Jason in the Fiesta 5 ballroom. 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 Fiesta 6 ballroom, the Tween group had their own Friday evening social – with a surprise by DJ Miles (a very interesting Honda Element with many blinkie things and gadgets that played some awesome music)! 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 sponsor, Medtronic Diabetes!
Tandem Diabetes Care organized an evening for adults with type 1 called "A Night with Sam Talbot." Sam, of Top Chef fame, demonstrated several of his recipes, and then offered these items as part of the evening's menu. The recipes included Soba Noodles with Mint, Chili and Parsnip, Summer Salad with Plums and Cilantro, and Blueberry and Mint Mojito. The participants just loved this evening ... and everyone is hoping for something similar next year. Thank you so much, Tandem Diabetes Care, for offering this innovative concept for an evening social and then sponsoring it.
Dessert with the Faculty was back for a 4th 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, tiramisu, and fresh cup of coffee in hand.
Sports Central was opening until 10 p.m. 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 Friday's sponsors, faculty, staff, and volunteers, who enabled this extraordinary day to happen!
Teens prepare to board busses to Disney's Hollywood Studios
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Jay Hewitt closed with his Finish Line Vision
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DJ Miles went over the top with his tricked out Honda Element ...
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... for the Tween Night
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Chef Sam Talbot was a big hit with the grown ups
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The teen dance is always a big hit
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