Back to Conferences 2013 Friends for Life Conference Report

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Envision this: It's the week after the 4th of July holiday. Many families are on vacation. The common destination is a favorite Disney conference venue. There are scheduled sessions with 50 of the very best speakers, researchers, and faculty in the world of type 1 diabetes. Two hundred volunteers and staff are on hand to help, work with the children, and make sure everything goes smoothly. What happens? What else! Over 3,500 hundred people from all over the world, converge on Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida, for the 14th annual Friends for Life conference!

It was a magical week, and not just because we were on Disney property. It WAS magical, and the magic was in the people. Here are a few examples:

  • Fifty people showed up on Monday morning at 7:15 to have breakfast and get to work with what we fondly call The Schlepping and Set-Up Day. We rented a U-Haul. We moved seven storage units of conference materials from the warehouse to the conference center. Box by box, plastic tub by plastic tub, by hand. Two registration areas, Sports Central, and Retinal Screening. It was a lot of stuff. All done with enthusiasm and, well, magic.
  • First Timers. They arrive with that 'uh-oh what did I get myself into' look, and by the time they have talked with the First Timers Welcome team by Registration, they are more confident. By Thursday 10:00 a.m., they have it all figured out ... where sessions are, where meals are, where their kids are, what the flow will be… and they are confident. It’s a physical, visible change, and it’s magic.
  • Dr. Ben. Over the course of 4 days, Dr. Ben and his retinal screening team explained everything from the most sophisticated, cutting-edge tests to the most basic of concepts. I overheard this conversation between Dr. Ben and a four-year-old young lady who was sitting in front of a complex-looking screen which displayed her retinas, "Do you want to know how I know you have a brain?" Dr. Ben and his team. Magic.
  • The youth program staff. Dozens of them. Their objective for the week is for all children (not just those with type 1) to learn, feel supported, and make friends for life. They make it look seamless and easy. It's not. It's their brand of magic.
  • Scott Kyllo and Ashley Head. Two indispensable guys – both CWD dads - who come from other countries (Scott from Canada and Ash from the UK) each year to apply their amazing expertise to our FFL conference. Scott is in charge of 'everything AV and IT' at Friends for Life; Ash is in charge of everything to do with the exhibit hall. We could not run a conference without them. Two dads. Magic.

In the following days we'll have links to the day-by-day report and many pages of photos. We hope that you get a sense of the emotion, learning, support, and FUN that happened last week, July 7-14, 2013, at Friends for Life.

Our most sincere thanks to the sponsors who supported this conference and who each year allow us to make it bigger and better: Novo Nordisk, OneTouch, Lilly Diabetes, Sanofi Diabetes, Abbott Diabetes Care, Animas, Insulet Corporation, Tandem Diabetes Care®, Dexcom, Inc., Medtronic Diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation, Perrigo Diabetes Care, and JDRF. On behalf of the thousands of people you touched at Friends for Life 2013, we are so grateful for your friendship and support.


Saturday's Teen Dance was awesome--as always
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Sponsors took to the dance floor to show everyone how it's done
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Scott Johnson was wired up!
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Casino Night was back for adults with type 1
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Kids of all ages enjoyed Sports Central
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[ Report Intro | Monday and Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday
| Videos | Photos | Other Write Ups | Sponsors | Event Announcement ]

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