Back to the 2013 conference report 2013 Friends for Life Report - Monday and Tuesday

Friends for Life 2013 Logo

Monday, July 8, was move-in day. 7:15 a.m. meet-up at the Pepper Market to have breakfast and lots of coffee. Most conferences have professional movers bring their equipment and boxes to the convention center before everything begins. Not CWD and Friends for Life! We take ownership for every aspect of this conference, and lovingly (and sweatingly) move every single box of registration materials, orange/green/yellow/blue FFL bracelets, quilt squares, collages, and t-shirts from the UHaul storage units to the Coronado Springs Convention Center. Seven. Full. Storage. Units. It was a ton of hard work, but our FFL Road Crew of about 50 people was on hand to take on the nitty-gritty!

Once the Road Crew deposited the boxes of equipment and materials, the set up crews for Registration, Sports Central, and Retinal Screenings got to work. Each of these teams runs like a well-oiled machine – they know what they're doing, and go about set-up in a very efficient manner. By noon, Dr. Ben's Retinal Screening team from The Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the New Jersey Medical School was ready to go, and at 1:00 sharp, they screened their first CWD participant! Many thanks to Betty Smith, Belinda Peach, Carolyn Meredith, and Lynn Smits for supporting Dr. Ben and his team during the entire conference.

Sports Central and Registration were ready to roll by late afternoon. It was the calm before the storm…

Tuesday -- the opening of Registration, First Timers Welcome Area, and Sports Central ... and Exhibitor Set-Up!

By 9 a.m., there was a queue of kids and adults by the South Registration area – everyone was so excited to pick up their registration materials, bracelets, and FFL t-shirts! Many thanks to Julia Mattingly and her main registration team for keeping the process running smoothly, answering everyone's questions, and doing all of it with so much positive energy! There was great energy and 'buzz' all day by South Registration! Julia's team included: Mike Bassett, Intissar Ben Halim, Audrey and Walter Greenfield, Marie Jarcho, Max Jarcho, Kim Kaar, Chad Kyllo, Scott Kyllo, Victor Miranda, Betty Parker, Rebecca Schmidt, and Tracey Smith.

The First Timers Welcome Area was fully staffed and very busy all day long! Nabil Elarbi, Lauren Lanning, and Tom Karlya – along with their team of volunteers – did a great job answering questions, calming fears, and distributing hugs to those who were a little nervous about their first FFL conference! Michelle Rago again coordinated the name badge decorating area which was crowded with children having fun with stickers and markers all day long. Many thanks to Michelle and her volunteers for keeping things fun from the get-go! Across from registration, the many collages of FFL kids over the years – families paused to find their photos from past years and marvel at 'how the kids have grown.'

Also on Tuesday morning, Jo Stroud and her team opened the Central Registration area, which was dedicated specifically to Sponsors and Exhibitors. It's the first time we have offered two separate registration areas at Friends for Life, and the feedback was very positive. Our sponsors and exhibitors are so important, and Jo and her team were able to give them the attention and resources they needed to get into the exhibit hall right away and begin set-up of their own booth areas! Many thanks to Jo's team: Neal Billetdeaux, Ginny Gidi, Brenda Hitchcock, Sarah Melendez, Deb Ruppert, and MaryLou Stuart. And many thanks to Ashley Head, who traveled from the UK once again to coordinate the Friends for Life Exhibit Hall and work with all of the exhibitors. Thanks as well to Peter Megaw and the Quilt for Life Set-Up team who worked late into the night on Tuesday to hang hundreds of individual quilt squares for display in the Exhibit Hall. The Quilt for Life is a CWD treasure. So are these volunteers.

Dr. Ben Szirth and his team continued with their four-day schedule of retinal screenings for those with type 1 at Friends for Life. Their days were extremely busy, with appointments back to back every 10 minutes Monday through Thursday. This year, Dr. Ben's team screened the FFL participants using the most cutting-edge, sophisticated equipment available. He and his team provided concise, understandable, and thorough explanations to children and parents alike. He again noted that the retinal health of the FFL participants was extremely good, and that this reflected their rigorous level of diabetes management.

Sports Central was ready for action at noon on Tuesday. While it took a few hours for the kids and adults to discover this area, once they did, it was packed! Thank you to Novo Nordisk for sponsoring Sports Central for the 10th year in a row! And thanks to the Sports Central Coordinators – Jimmy and Liz Dodson – and their Sports Central Staff – Jen Alexander, Alex Bush,Ryan DeGrof, Bill King, Jaime Molyneux (shout out to Jaime's mom as well!), Harold Sanco, Ben Stroud, James Stroud, and Ben Tzeel. Your enthusiasm and energy were infectious in a great way, and the families clearly loved their time in Sports Central!

Ending the day on a very positive note, on Tuesday evening, 150 FFL staff and volunteers had the opportunity to hear Ed Damiano speak about the Bionic Pancreas at a Staff Appreciation dinner. It was a packed room, and Dr. Damiano's presentation was the stuff of standing ovations. We will make this Staff Appreciation Dinner a yearly event – a tradition – Friends for Life staff and volunteers are the best!


FFL returned to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort for 2013
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The "move in crew" on Monday morning, as they headed out for a hard day's work
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What could be more amazing than finding that two FFL leaders have the same color DexCom receiver as you do?
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The photo collage ... an FFL tradition
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