Because of the long July 4 weekend, many families arrived on the Friday and Saturday prior to the Friends for Life conference. By Sunday, there were already hundreds of attendees at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Most were there to enjoy a few days of theme parks and water parks, and many made early FFLs simply by staying poolside and relaxing. It was easy to spot us – we were the ones with the old FFL t-shirts and the bags full of low supplies!
The move-in crew also arrived on Sunday, along with the FFL Support Team, the Registration Team, and the Sports Central crew. Sunday was a busy day for Sarah and Chris Grant and Bob and Zachary Schmidt, as they loaded up the UHaul truck from the storage units and prepared for Monday’s move-in. It was strenuous and hot work, but they had the truck filled to the brim and ready for the Monday morning crew who began work at 7:30 a.m.
By Monday at 5 p.m., we were ready to open Registration, Sports Central, and Retinal Screenings. The First Timers Welcome Area, coordinated by Nabil Elarbi, Tom Karlya, and Lauren Lanning, was buzzing with First Timer families excitedly – and sometimes anxiously - asking questions. Answers always came with a smile and a hug. Registration was busy all evening with Julia Mattingly and her wonderful registration team welcoming families, handing out name badges, printed programs, conference t-shirts, and green/orange/yellow Tyvek bracelets (by the end of the night, they were everywhere!). Scott Kyllo, CWD’s IT Coordinator, split his time between watching over the new registration kiosks and making sure all of the behind-the-scenes equipment was functioning efficiently. CWD’s Exhibit Hall Coordinator Ashley Head worked with Freeman to ready the Exhibit Hall for Tuesday’s exhibitor move-in. And everywhere, the FFL Support Team, coordinated by Donna and Bob Cope, watched over our entire conference area to make sure everything was working efficiently and safely.
Tuesday was a day for screenings, Sports Central, set-up, and MasterLab. For many families, it was a day to combine some park time with pool time, and a great opportunity to meet new friends -- now identifiable by green, orange, and yellow bracelets. For CWD staff and volunteers, Tuesday afternoon provided an opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Chris Fraker from the Diabetes Research Institute and then spend an evening enjoying dinner and bowling at Splitsville. Many thanks to Dexcom for sponsoring this evening for Friends for Life staff and volunteers, and allowing them to have some fun down time before the extremely busy Wednesday to Friday schedule began!
Chris Fraker, PhD, from the DRIF spoke to our volunteers and staff
There's nothing like meeting Joe Solo at registration
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