Teen Program Staff
After having spent years on the sideline as the "spouse" of one of the faculty members, Neil Benchell decided it was time to get involved with CWD and Friends for Life®. As one of the Teen Staff members, Neil is always in the thick of trying to make the conferences a more memorable experience for all. In addition to his work with CWD, Neil is an attorney practicing in the area of intellectual property litigation, and has represented a number of diabetes-related organizations.
Neal Billetdeaux, from Michigan, has learned to be a diabetes advocate from kids Carolyn and Sam. His most frequent complaint to wife, Laura, is that he doesn't have enough vacation time to make it to all the CWD conferences! Neal is a principal in a landscape architecture firm in Ann Arbor. His CWD 'claim to fame' is that - in a sleep-deprived stupor one night - he awoke to his alarm at 2 a.m. and tried to test one of the yellow labs. He's a great dad with a great sense of humor!
Chris Birri graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in mechanical engineering. He has helped at CWD conferences for several years. He enjoys working with children and volunteering with many organizations.
Linda Clapp RN, BSN, CDE, is a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator and is currently working as an educator for Novo Nordisk. Linda has been a CDE since 2000 and specialized in pump therapy prior to working with Novo Nordisk. Linda was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 and has been on pump therapy for over 30 years. She is passionate about education and motivating kids and adults to take charge of their diabetes. Linda has been involved with CWD for many years working in childcare. She is married and has two teenagers.
Marilyn Fry, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Marilyn has been working with children with type 1 diabetes for 22 years. Her areas of interests include toddler feeding and exercise management. She is kept active and busy outside of work raising her two teenage daughters. Marilyn has a family history of diabetes but does not have diabetes herself.
Brian Grant, BSN, RN, CDE, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He loves working with people who have diabetes, and is looking forward to his fifth Friends for Life conference. He currently resides in King of Prussia, PA, and works for Dexcom.
Jessica C. Kichler, PhD, CDE, is a pediatric psychologist who specializes in working with chronically medically ill children and their families. She is also a certified diabetes educator (CDE). She provides individual, family, and group therapy for all ages of children and their families. In addition, she engages in research, education, and training in the areas of adjustment and coping, adherence, and the psychosocial outcomes of chronic illness in children and families. Dr. Kichler is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati Medical School, in the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Alyssa Kyllo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven, two years after her younger brother, Chad. Alyssa's FFL experience began in Pasadena in 2002, and has continued ever since. At the age of eight, she started attending Camp Kakhamela (a D-Camp in British Columbia), and continued through their leadership program to become a camp counselor at 17 years old. She is now 25 years old, living in Kamloops, B.C. with her dog Blue and working full time for the Kamloops & District BC SPCA. She is an avid Curler in the winter season and a certified Narcotics Dog Handler. Alyssa is thrilled to be working with CWD again this year!
Hannah Lambert, BSN, RN, age 23, graduated from Quinnipiac University and looks forward to starting her nursing career at Florida Hospital Memorial, July 11th. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old in 2005. Ever since, she has attended the annual Friends for Life Children with Diabetes conference in Orlando to stay updated on new research and technology. Hannah grew up on the east coast of Florida and loves traveling, photography, volleyball, adventure, and helping others. This is her second year volunteering with the teens and she is very excited to be back!
Alanna Landry RN, CDE, has been working as a pediatric diabetes nurse educator for 17 years at Markham Stouffville Hospital in Ontario, Canada. She has the privilege of working with 450 families with type 1 diabetes. After attending her first CWD FFL conference in 2004 she was hooked on the incredible experience and wants to continue to share this experience with the wonderful people she has met and encourage as many families as possible to attend. Working with the teen program has been something she looks forward to each year.
Sarah Loebner, age 23, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 9 1/2 in 2002. She attended her first CWD Friends For Life conference exactly a month later, and has returned every year since. Having earned her Bachelor's degree in Human Biology from Scripps College, she is currently pursuing a career as a physician's assistant to eventually become a Certified Diabetes Educator. She spends her free time singing, thinking about dogs, and giving free, unlimited hugs. Sarah is so glad to be a member of the CWD staff that gave her so much support, love, and confidence as a younger CWD participant, and she is so excited to make more Friends For Life at this year's conference!
Jesse Nagel, BSN, 24, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 9 1/2 years old. He recently graduated from Nursing School at D'Youville College in Buffalo, NY, where he was elected Vice President of the Student Nurses Association. He has traveled to Washington, DC, as an advocate with the JDRF Children's Congress and the ADA Call to Congress, and will continue meeting with his representatives until a cure is found. He has attended every FFL Orlando since 2003 as part of the elementary, tween, and teen groups. For the last few years he was a staff member with the elementary age children. This year, he is very excited to be a part of the Teen staff again!
Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDE, graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She has had type 1 diabetes since the age of 2 and has grown up with a passion for helping families living with diabetes. Marissa works in an adult endocrinology clinic with a focus on young adults and optimism. She has always enjoyed working with families with diabetes at CWD conferences, camps and support groups. When she's not spending time with her young son Connor and husband Adam, she's usually playing cards with friends, jogging with her dog Baxter, traveling, or spending time with family.
Charles E. Wiedmeyer DVM, PhD, DACVP is an associate professor of veterinary clinical pathology at the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia, Missouri. He earned his veterinary degree and PhD in veterinary pathology from the University of Illinois. In addition, he is a board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist. Dr. Wiedmeyer's specialty is applying technology to better monitor diabetic veterinary patients. His emphasis in this field is working with dogs and cats but has experience with horses, cows and pigs. Dr. Wiedmeyer has published numerous articles and given many presentations regarding the use of continuous glucose monitoring in veterinary patients and is considered the authority on this subject as it relates to veterinary medicine. Besides research, Dr. Wiedmeyer teaches veterinary students and offers leadership mentoring to a wide diversity of individuals within the veterinary profession.
Kiraina Young is 23 years old and has had type 1 diabetes for 11 years. She was diagnosed in April 2005, shortly after moving from the Bahamas. She has attended Friends for Life Orlando for the last four years and is very excited to join teen staff this year. Kiraina enjoys reading, playing video games, and hanging out with friends and family!
Tween Program Staff
Justin Abel attended his first CWD conference in 2002 after his daughter Sailor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2001 at age 2. Once he started attending more CWD conferences, his wife Sunshine did not have to twist his arm for him to realize he wanted to get more involved. Justin has been volunteering at CWD conferences since 2006. He is also dad to Sierra, who is a young adult volunteer with CWD.
Noor Alramahi, 28 years old, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six and proud mother of 17 month old twin boys, Rakan and Kareem. She served as a volunteer at her local hospital in the United Arab Emirates, helping newly diagnosed children and their families. Since moving to the San Francisco Bay area in 2012, she has volunteered with the American Diabetes Association in San Jose and works with an organization called Carb DM, that provides support and education for people and families living with Type 1 Diabetes. She is also part of a local Bay Area type 1 diabetes group called Sugar Mommas that offers support for women in the family planning, pregnancy and motherhood phases. Noor has attended Friends for Life for eight years and counting!
Amanda Borges is a Miami, Florida native who moved to New York in 2011 to attend New York University's Film and Television Production program. Since Graduating in 2015, she now works at NBCUniversal's Bravo Network, and lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend Ben Stroud, who was diagnosed with T1 Diabetes in 1998. She'll be working with the Tween Staff, and will be assisting with the Docu-Diabetes project.
Martyn Carr lives in Scotland and is studying in the Bachelor of Science Adult Nursing degree at the University West of Scotland, graduating in 2016. Martyn would like to become a Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN). He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was five years old. Martyn met his wife Chelsea at the Friends for Life Conference in Orlando. He and his family have participated in the Friends for Life conferences and the UK Friends for Life conferences for many years. Martyn has worked with the Elementary, Tween and Teen age groups, and he loves helping out and being with his friends at CWD conferences.
Erica Fox, 19, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in January 2004. Erica attended her first FFL conference in 2004 with her family and has never missed a conference since. She is a student at Texas A&M University and is studying to become a Nurse in the hopes of eventually becoming a Diabetes Educator. CWD conferences are the best part of her year and she is very grateful for all the friends she has made at FFL. Erica is extremely excited to work with the tweens and finally have the opportunity to be on staff.
Melissa Geren was diagnosed with diabetes when she was four. She went to her first CWD Conference in 2003 and has been attending Friends for Life Conferences ever since. Melissa has three siblings, Sarah, Kayla, Matthew. Matthew also has type 1 diabetes. Melissa graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2013 with a degree in Public Relations and Marketing. Currently living in Milwaukee and working as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the Woman's Club of Wisconsin.
Grace Grande-Cassell is very excited to be staffing her fifth year of CWD conferences! She has grown up with a connection to type 1 diabetes because of her grandfather, who was diagnosed at age 14. Grace currently lives in New York City where she works in the fashion industry. She is so happy to be helping at another conference.
Marc Hillis, 23, from Glasgow, has just completed his BSc in architecture and is continuing to study for his masters degree. He is also an avid campaigner for equal access to insulin pump therapy in Scotland. Marc attended the first CWD UK conference in 2009 where he felt normal for the first time since his diagnosis. He has since attended several conferences in the UK and enjoys seeing other kids experiencing the same sense of community as he does.
Dennis Holterman resides in Jackson, Missouri with his mom, dad, and two younger sisters. Dennis has had diabetes since the age of seven, and has attended the Friends for Life conferences for the past four years, along with a few regional conferences in Toronto, Canada and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the past few years Dennis has struggled with managing his diabetes. He hopes that by helping other, younger kids with diabetes and becoming a role model for them, he can also find inspiration and advice to further help himself manage his diabetes.
Kameron Madley, from Tampa Bay, Florida, has been part of the FFL teen community for the past few years. He is a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University, majoring in Communication. Kameron's life revolves around school and work, but in his free time he loves fishing, boating, going to the beach and just being outside. Kameron loves working with children, and is delighted to join the tween team this summer!
Sarah Melendez, BSN, RN, mom to Brady, diagnosed in 2004, resides outside of Philadelphia. They have been attending conferences since 2005 and have made CWD an integral part of their lives. A graduate of West Chester University with a Bachelor Degree in Nursing, Sarah currently works at with an orthopedic practice. Along with her passion for Diabetes and her goals to obtain her CDE, Sarah is extensively involved in local and overseas humanitarian aid. She has worked with disaster relief projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and has traveled to Haiti for medical trips, working extensively to schedule and finance pediatric orthopedic surgeries.
Rachale Park is a full time student at Palm Beach State college and spends her free time reading and playing with her dachshund, Maggie. Rachale grew up with a mother who has had diabetes since the age of 11 and her 12-year old brother, who has been diagnosed with diabetes for eight years. By volunteering with CWD, Rachale hopes to help others who are growing up with siblings who have been diagnosed and are excited to learn more about the type 1 diabetes community.
Sarah Pawlowski has three siblings, two with type 1, and has been coming to CWD and Friends for Life Conferences since 2003. Sarah graduated in 2015 from Marquette University with a degree in Elementary Education and Psychology and is currently a Middle School teacher in Milwaukee, WI. Sarah is so excited to work with the Friends for Life tween kids and be a part of the CWD Youth Program Staff this year.
Lizzie Poe was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 19 and attended her first CWD conference four months later. Lizzie has a degree in psychology and works for Ronald McDonald House Charities. She is active in her local JDRF chapter and prepares the Bags of Hope for newly diagnosed kids. In her spare time, Lizzie enjoys mastering temporary basal rates while she runs.
Sean Pitt is dad to four beautiful girls whose oldest was diagnosed with T1D at age 3 and is now in the teen program. Sean has been coming to FFL with his growing family every year since her diagnosis in 2003. They were all immediately taken in as "family." He and his wife, Lisa, have been volunteering for CWD for many years. He loves helping out wherever he can. Sean is working primarily with the Tweens and with the FFL Support Team this year, so you will see his friendly face all week long!
Kenny Rodenheiser, BSN, RN, CDE, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. Through his involvement with CWD, ADA, JDRF and other local organizations, he realized his passion is to help people with diabetes learn about their disease and how to cope with it. He earned his Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Kenny earned his Certified Diabetes Educator in 2015 and currently works as a diabetes educator for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Deb Ruppert looks forward to meeting and being inspired by the incredible tween team each year. Outside of CWD, she is a strategic marketing consultant for healthcare companies and enjoys cooking, college basketball and football, and her two four-legged fur babies.
Jenny Vandevelde was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003. She has a degree in Recreation and Tourism Management from San Diego State University. She currently works for Tandem Diabetes Care in San Diego and spends her weekends snowboarding and wakeboarding. Jenny is part of the Elite Coaches team at Riding on Insulin, where she helps kids with type 1 learn to snowboard. She also loves playing soccer and basketball. Her most recent accomplishment is her third bike ride through Death Valley for JDRF, clocking in at 102 miles and raising $10,000. In October 2008, she ran as one of the 25 Medtronic Global Heroes in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Jenny attended her first CWD conference in San Diego in 2005 and has been in love with CWD events since then.
Marija Vjestica is 22 years old and recently graduated from Radford University, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology. Marija's younger sister, Lana, has had type 1 diabetes for eight years. The family has participated in seven Friends for Life conferences, and this is Marija'’s second year volunteering. She is excited to work in the tween group this summer!
Elementary Program Staff
Sunshine Abel, LPN, is the mother of Sierra and Sailor. She attended her first CWD conference with her family in 2002, after Sailor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2. Sunshine immediately knew she had found a new family and a new home where kids were experiencing the same thing as Sailor. She then made it her mission to involve her whole family. Sunshine is continuing her education working towards her RN degree. Sunshine has been working as a nurse and leader in the youth programs since 2006.
Chelsea Carr has grown up around diabetes; her brother Jeremy was diagnosed in 2000. She attended her first Friends for Life conference with her family in 2003 and has been to many CWD regional and annual conferences since that time. It was through the FFL conferences that she first met her husband, Martyn. Chelsea now lives in Glasgow and recently completed her masters degree in history at the University of Edinburgh. She loves working with kids and has worked as a dance and acrobatics teacher for young children. She is also an aerialist and spends all of her free time hanging from the rafters on a trapeze!
A FFL attendee since 2003, Hunter Cope has grown up through the CWD elementary, tween, and teen groups with her service dog, Diva, by her side. Hunter, who was diagnosed with type 1 thirteen years ago, has volunteered at each Friends for Life Orlando conference along with her family. She is currently attending the University of Florida in the pre-nursing program, lives with her new dog Abby, and looks forward to being part of the staff again this year.
Adrianne Cornette is a fourth year student at the University of Cincinnati. She's been attending CWD since 2008 and can't wait to be on staff this year! She aspires to be a pediatric endocrinologist and loves to work with kids. Here's to another year of great memories!
Amanda Coschi, BScN, RN, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 13 years. A graduate from McMaster University with a BScN in Nursing, Amanda now works with Animas Canada in pump training and education. She has been involved with the Diabetes Hope Foundation as a mentor and Alumnus. Amanda recently spent her 12th summer at Camp Huronda, where she worked her way up from camper, to staff, to camp nurse. When not working towards completing her CDE she can be found participating in Connected in Motion events.
Michelle Dao is 20 years old and studies nursing at the University of Cincinnati. She is involved in a nursing leadership group and the National Student Nurses' Association that provides academic support, advising, leadership and professional development and socialization initiatives. Michelle is also involved in undergraduate research through UC's College of Nursing. Michelle helped staff childcare at Friends for Life 2015 and will be working with the elementary kids at this conference.
Emily Dentinger was diagnosed with diabetes when she was two years old, and celiac when she was 8 years old. However, she asserts that type 1 and celiac have not slowed her down one bit from reaching her dreams. Now 19, Emily is very excited to be starting an Honours Kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo. She has participated in many CWD Canadian conferences and now wants to give back. Emily is volunteering with the Elementary Program at Friends for Life Orlando.
Emilee Fairchild is a 19 year old soccer player who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven. Her first FFL conference was in 2006, and this is her seventh! Since diagnosis, Emilee has traveled to Washington, DC, as the Kentucky Delegate for JDRF Children's Congress. She is also a JDRF youth ambassador and recently participated in her first JDRF Ride to Cure cycling event. Emilee has made so many special friends at FFL and she loves seeing them again each year. She enjoys being part of the elementary staff! Emilee says, "I love CWD and all they do for me and so many others, and I can't imagine a summer that doesn't include this conference!" Emilee graduated high school with a certification in nursing and is currently a full time college sophomore majoring in nursing and pre-med.
Lynet Fox is the mother of three girls, Marisa (22), Jessica (20), and Erica (18) and Granna to Carter (1). She attended her first CWD conference in 2004 after Erica was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She has not missed a Friends for Life Conference since first attending. Her daughter Jessica was diagnosed in December 2010 at the age of 16. Lynet currently teaches high school physics. The entire family looks forward to conference in Orlando each summer. She has volunteered in different capacities at Friends for Life conferences over the past eight years.
Currently studying marketing at Canisius College in Buffalo New York, Josh Guidie is a volunteer firefighter working on becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Josh has been a volunteer with his local JDRF chapter and a delegate in Children's Congress. He was diagnosed with type 1 in 2004. Josh and his family attended Friends For Life Orlando from 2009 through 2014, and he recently volunteered as elementary staff at the Friends For Life Canada 2105 conference.
Jen Hanson, BKin, BEd, MEd, has grown up with type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed in 1987, she has never let diabetes stop her from pursuing her passion. Jen's early beginnings as a campfire-loving, bug-catching, mud-puddle-jumping, tree-climbing tot sparked in her a love for the natural world that has been fostered and frown into a full-blown passion for everything outdoors. Jen has degrees in Kinesiology and Education and specializes in Outdoor and Experiential Health education. Jen is the Executive Director of Connected in Motion, a Toronto-based charity providing outdoor adventure and sport opportunities for people living with type 1 diabetes.
Timothy Hitchcock is currently studying Astrophysics at the University of Cincinnati. His older sister Marissa was diagnosed with type 1 in 1989. Tim is a founding father of a fraternity at the University of Cincinnati and is looking forward to using the leadership skills he has learned thus far to work with the elementary kids.
Kara Hunsche has been living with type 1 diabetes since February 23, 2001. She attended her first CWD conference in 2003 where she found true Friends For Life. Kara is proud to say she was the first child at Cincinnati Children's to go untethered. She is so excited to work with the CWD elementary kids.
Monica Lanning is 22 years old and just graduated with a bachelors in biology from the University of Chicago. She is going to Boston University this fall to work on a Masters in Medical Sciences and Clinical Investigation. She currently works as a research assistant the the Monogenic Diabetes Registry at the Kovler Diabetes Center in Chicago. She loves to get crafty, bake, hike, and travel. Monica has had diabetes for 20 years and has been to every FFL conference (all 16!) as well as many regionals. She calls her CWD friends "family" and is excited for this year’s "family reunion!""
Katelyn Littlefield was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine in 2005, and has been attending the Friends for Life conference every year since 2006. She is currently attending University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and is studying Psychology and Counseling, while also working towards becoming a dog trainer! CWD has given her so much love and support, and has made such an impact on her. She is very excited to be a part of the elementary staff this year!
Rebekah Macon, RN, is mom to three rather wonderful people (in her admittedly biased view). She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Child Psychology, and recently completed an RN degree. She enjoys providing patient care in a local hospital. She was thrust into the world of T1D when her eldest son was diagnosed at age four, and has been volunteering/attending Friends for Life since 2008. Her family agrees that making invaluable connections at FFL is a definite silver lining for grappling with this disease!
Sarah Martin is 18 and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11 in July 2009. Her first Friends for Life Conference was exactly one year later in 2010 and she has been attending ever since. Sarah will be attending Niagara University in the fall to study Nursing, specifically Pediatric Nursing. She is looking forward to applying what she learns as a volunteer this year to her future career. Sarah is thankful to FFL for the many friends she has made and for giving her the opportunity to learn and grow. She is excited to work with the elementary kids this year to pass along the knowledge she has gained and her commitment to perseverance.
Ethan Mattingly is 18 and is from Louisville, Kentucky. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 10 months old. He attended his first conference in 2000 when he was two years old and has been to all Friends for Life Orlando conferences and many of the regionals. Ethan started in childcare and moved though elementary, tween and teens. He is now a student at the University of Kentucky. He is very excited to volunteer on elementary staff and be with his CWD family and friends.
Jeremy Meredith, 22, has had type 1 diabetes for 16 years; he was diagnosed in May of 2000 when he was six years old. Jeremy has been attending CWD conferences since 2003; this will be his 13th FFL Orlando conference. He has received his AS in Criminal Justice Technology this past year and currently attends St. Petersburg College, working towards his BAS in Public Safety Administration. Jeremy is excited to be elementary staff and to be with his CWD family.
Royce Neal is a 19 year old sibling of a sister who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 11 years ago. He has been coming to Friends for Life Orlando for five years, and this year wanted to volunteer as staff. He is excited to be part of the Elementary team.
Kayla Pawlowski attends Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI majoring in Elementary Education. She has three siblings - two with type 1 - and her family is from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Kayla and her family have been attending CWD conferences and Friends for Life since 2003. She is very excited to be a part of the CWD Youth Program Staff and to have the opportunity to work with the elementary-aged children at Friends for Life.
Jennifer Randall has had type 1 diabetes for 29 years. As a young girl she attended a summer camp for children with type 1 diabetes (Camp Huronda) and later became a staff member leading groups on canoe trips across Ontario's great north. Always up for an adventure, Jen can be found outside enjoying a day on the lake or a camping trip. In recent years she has been involved in various activities with Connected in Motion, helping to support and motivate other young adults living with type 1 diabetes.
Josh Roche is 21 years old and attends Florida State College in Jacksonville as a business major. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 11. Josh attended two Friends for Life Orlando conferences and found the support from volunteers to be very helpful. This year, he’d like to give back! Josh will be a first time elementary program staffer.
Zachary Schmidt, 20, was diagnosed in April of 2002 at the age five. With the exception of two conferences, he has attended every Friends for Life Conference since 2003. Never letting diabetes slow him down, Zachary was always involved in sports (soccer, baseball, football, rugby and competitive cheer) and successfully wrestled with the challenges of diabetes, pumping and intense physical exercise in the Florida heat. Having recently graduated from high school in June, Zachary is now enrolled at Northwest Florida State College, working toward a B.S. degree to support his future goal of a career in the criminal justice field. Zachary is very grateful to CWD and FFL not only for the knowledge and support provided to him and his family, but also for the positive role models who were always present and demonstrated that even with diabetes, you can still achieve many of your goals and dreams. He now looks forward to helping others at Friends for Life, and hopes to be a good role model for the younger kids with type 1.
Mary Claire Schnier is 20 and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008 at the end of 6th grade. She attended her first Friends for Life as a teen in 2009 and has never looked back. She now has a multitude of friends all over the country and is excited to volunteer with all the kids again. Mary Claire attends Eastern Kentucky University as a Public Relations major and frequently applies what she has learned from her FFL family as a college student. She is so thankful and blessed for the opportunities that Children with Diabetes has given her.
Troy Todd is attending Penn State University, currently studying Nuclear Engineering. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 13 in 2008. He first attended CWD in 2008 only months after his diagnosis. He has not missed a conference since and looks forward to the conference every summer. He is extremely excited to get a chance to contribute to an organization that has given him so much over the years. Troy also enjoys sports, science, and performing theatre in his free time.
Dylan Weiss lives in Charlottesville, Virginia and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was seven years old. He attends Christopher Newport University located in Newport News, Virginia. Dylan started attending Friends for Life Orlando six years ago following a friend's recommendation. He immediately fell in love with the whole experience. Dylan lives a very active lifestyle with diabetes, and he particularly enjoys basketball and baseball. Dylan states, "CWD has helped me to connect with other people that have diabetes and has helped to me embrace living with it."
Orange Team (Siblings Staff)
Sierra Abel is the older sister to Sailor Abel, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2001. Sierra attended her first CWD conference with her family in 2002, where she was in the elementary group. She has now worked her way through all the programs, graduating from the teens at FFL 2011. Sierra graduated from Mercy College in 2016 with a degree in Public Relations focusing on Marketing. She is excited to be a leader of the siblings group and working with friends and family.
Intissar Ben Halim, MSS, is mom to Maryam, Zakariyya, Abdalla, and Yaseen, and wife to Nabil. She and her family been involved with CWD conferences since 2004. She enjoys meeting other CWD parents and families and sharing stories and challenges. Intissar loves her work as a clinical social worker at a nonprofit agency in West Chester, Pennsylvania, as well as her work as an associate at Cultivating Wholeness, a private practice in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. She and her family reside in King-of-Prussia.
Carolyn Billetdeaux has been attending FFL conferences since the age of 13. After growing up through the Teen and College Age programs, she now works as Coordinator of the Sibling Program. She presents diabetes as a family disease and focuses on sharing the sibling side of the experience. Carolyn majored in management and organizational behavior at New York University, and currently works as a Sustainability Consultant in the metro-DC area.
Zakariyya Elarbi started attending CWD conferences more than a decade ago, after his twin sister Maryam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He knew then that diabetes would forever play an important role in his life. After years of attending conferences as a tween and teen, Zak is thrilled to give back to the CWD community as a leader on the Siblings Staff, working alongside close friends and family. In his free time, Zak enjoys reading, hitting the weights, and catching up on old episodes of Friends. Zak just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Finance and Supply Chain Management.
Sarah Lanning is a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She attended her first CWD conference at the age of four and has been to almost every FFL since. Sarah loves traveling, playing guitar, cake decorating, crafting and biking. Sarah is ecstatic to give back to the CWD community and continue growing our family.
Erin Randall, RN, was first introduced to diabetes in 1986 when her sister, at the age of five, was diagnosed with type 1. She has been involved with Camp Huronda, a summer camp for children with diabetes in Ontario, where she met her husband (who happens to have type 1 diabetes). Her passion for giving back has led her to work with an amazing team at Markham Stouffville Hospital in the paediatric diabetes clinic. Erin combines her love of the outdoors and helping others as an ambassador for Connected in Motion.
As a college and semi-professional athlete, James Stroud focuses on exercise and healthy eating habits as an important part of his daily routine. James has been part of the FFL family ever since his older brother Ben was diagnosed with type 1 over 15 years ago. He can't wait to see old friends and meet new ones at this year's FFL Conference. James recently began working for Dexcom as a sales representative.
Green Team (T-1 Youth Staff)
Maryam Elarbi was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. Eight months later her family began attending Children with Diabetes conferences, and they haven't looked back since. This year, Maryam is thrilled to join the newly formed Green Team, developing T1 youth programming at CWD. In her free time, you will most likely to find Maryam hiking at Valley Forge Park, taking photos of trees and latte art, or keeping up with current events. Maryam graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2015 with a degree in International Studies and a minor in History. She is passionate about non-profit work, and specializes in Marketing & Communications.
Korey K. Hood, PhD, is Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University where he directs NIH-funded research projects and provides clinical care aimed at promoting health and quality of life outcomes in youth with diabetes and their families. Dr. Hood actively investigates the human factors associated with the uptake of diabetes technology and works with Dr. Bruce Buckingham on his team's artificial pancreas project. Dr. Hood also serves on national committees for the American Diabetes Association and is on editorial boards for Diabetes Care and the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Dr. Hood is the author of Type 1 Teens: A Guide to Managing Your Life with Diabetes and a recent book entitled Teens With Diabetes: A Clinician's Guide (with authors Michael Harris, PhD and Jill Weissberg-Benchell, PhD, CDE). His research, clinical care, and service are fueled by his personal experience with type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed as a young adult and has spent more than 14 years managing type 1 diabetes. He is passionate about helping children and teens with diabetes, and their families, make diabetes a part of their lives while not letting it run their lives.
Kelsey Martin was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 12, and attended her first conference two months later. After growing up through CWD, she worked with the Elementary and Tween age groups for several years prior to joining the Green Team. Kelsey remains active with her local JDRF chapter, and serves on the advisory board for the University of Kansas Cray Diabetes Center. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and works for public relations and marketing firm FleishmanHillard where she specializes in consumer marketing and nonprofit clients. When she's not traveling to a CWD event or to see a friend in another city, Kelsey enjoys reading, taking gym classes and trying new recipes.
Kindergarten, Pre-K and Childcare
Alex Bush is excited to be staffing her fifth year of CWD conferences! A graduate from Chico State University, she received her Bachelor degree in Psychology and Child Development. Alex is excited to be working in childcare this year.
Viviana Calero lives in Orlando, Florida where she attends the University of Central Florida, majoring in Pre-Med. She is 19 years old and has had type 1 diabetes for seven years. Viviana has been to many FFL conferences, and she looks forward to them each summer. She states, "These conferences have helped me connect with so many people. I hope to give back what these conferences have given me through the years."
Nicole DeBolt, from Ocala, Florida, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005. She has participated in Friends for Life conferences for the past seven years. Nicole is a freshman and plays on the Beach Volleyball team for the University of North Florida. She loves working with children and is excited to meet others in the type 1 community!
Chris Joynes, RN, attended her first Friends for Life conference after her 6 year old daughter Molly was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March 2005. Chris loves working with children and has been a pediatric emergency department nurse for 11 years. She is excited to be full time staff and to give back to an organization that "provided my family with support, hope, motivation, and smiles once Molly was diagnosed." Chris is also mom to Andrew, Elizabeth, and Benjamin, who have grown up with CWD.
Kaitlyn Karlya, BSN, RN, was diagnosed with diabetes in 1992 at the age of two. Kaitlyn works as a nurse on the endocrinology unit at Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester. She enjoys working with these newly diagnosed families and providing education on diabetes management and lifestyle modification. Kaitlyn is studying to become a Family Nurse Practitioner and is looking forward to seeing everyone at this year's conference!
Ashlee Lewis, age 21, is the big sister to Madyson, diagnosed in 2010. Every year since then, she and her family have attended FFL. She loves the support and happiness the conferences have given her sister and hopes to give some back in return. Currently, Ashlee is studying Computer Software at her community college and works part-time as a dance teacher. She is super excited to be on staff this year and can't wait to see all her extended family.
Teresa Littlefield, BSN, RN, is mom to Katelyn, diagnosed at age 9, and her sister Jessica. She has been attending FFL conferences since 2006. She started out as a participant, then as a volunteer for many years and became a member of staff in 2013. She currently works in the birth center at her local hospital, but also volunteers to work with patients with diabetes in her local community as well as online as part of the Online Diabetes Support Team of JDRF. She is currently pursuing her master's degree with plans to earn her CDE. Friends for Life offers a lot of support for parents, too, and she is super excited to be back again this year!
Midge McBryant is grandma (Mimi) to Jeremy Meredith (dx'd 5/2000) and to Chelsea and Bailey. She is enjoying retirement after working many years as a real estate paralegal. Midge loves baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays! She has been attending Friends for Life Orlando conferences since 2003 and has been on staff in childcare for the past few years. She enjoys working with the "Little Ones" and is very happy to be a part of the Friends For Life Family!
Lisa Pitt, RN, is mom to four beautiful daughters aged preschool to teens. She and her family began coming to Friends for Life conferences when her oldest was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age three in 2003. She also has been volunteering in childcare since 2010 and loves seeing her "extended family" - CWD. Lisa is a busy full-time mom and full-time cardiac nurse in the acute care setting. She believes ongoing education is the key to successful management of any chronic illness.
Helen Rodenheiser, wife of Kenny Rodenheiser, is a first grade teacher at Folsom Elementary School in New Jersey. She has been attending conferences as a Childcare staff member sine 2011. She brings the knowledge and resources she learns from CWD to help any and all children affected by diabetes in her school. Helen is currently working towards earning her Masters in Special Education.
Brandy Schmidt is Jeff's wife and mother of two, Brandon, dx'd 1997, and Rhiannon, dx'd 2009. When Brandon was diagnosed, Brandy came home from the hospital and found CWD on the first search. She has been addicted to CWD since then. She has been an advocate for all military families dealing with diabetes. She helped implement a gluten free policy in San Diego county public schools when Brandon was diagnosed with celiac in 2005. She has been dubbed the "Gluten Free Police" at conferences. Brandy now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, four dogs and a bearded dragon!
Kalyn Schmidt is 20 years old. She was diagnosed with diabetes at age 15 and has been coming to FFL conferences ever since. Kalyn will be entering her sophomore year of college in Alabama. When she is not at school, she lives in Ohio and loves doing whatever she can to be a positive role model for children living with diabetes. She is excited for the Friends for Life conference this year and can't wait to work with the kids in childcare!
Cyndy Schroeder RD, CDE, CDN, is back for her third year of Childcare at Friends for Life Orlando. Cyndy has been a CDE for over 25 years, just after her first daughter, Gretchen, was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 13 months. Cyndy's second daughter Anna was diagnosed 14 years later. Cyndy works at Animas as the Manager of Clinical Services, helping patients and educators understand the value of education and training. She is looking forward to a fabulously educational week.
Shelby Smith was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age six in 2003. This will be her 12th FFL conference. She is currently a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University studying Communications. FFL is her favorite part of the year! She has made the best types of friendships from these conferences. In her spare time, her favorite activities include playing guitar, basketball, Skyping her CWD friends, and traveling. She absolutely loves children and is looking forward to bringing her positive attitude and sense of humor to the Youth Program staff once again.
Rebekah Sutherland was diagnosed with T1 immediately after her 3rd birthday in 1998, attended her first CWD UK conference in 2010, her first CWD Orlando conference in 2013 and has attended both ever since, now as a member of the childcare team. Bex studies Social Science at Aberdeen College in Scotland with a view to becoming a Diabetes Psychologist and Educator. She is a JDRF T1 Youth Ambassador, and, since she was 13, has delivered many speeches on Life with Diabetes at business lunches, a JDRF Ball, to Oil Industry employees, at fund-raising events, school assemblies and competitions. She also talks to parents of newly diagnosed T1s to show them that despite T1 you can still achieve your dreams and ambitions; she now speaks to the second year medical students at Aberdeen University. In her spare time she is a swimming teacher, loves reading books, swimming, going to the gym, spending time with her dogs and keeping up with her friends wherever they are in the world.
Barb Whedon, MS, RD, CDE, has a BS and MS in nutrition and for 30 years has coached others to find their individual dietary balance, moderation and variety. Barbara loves to cook and try new foods. She has two young adult children and has enjoyed watching them embrace healthful eating and a healthy enjoyment of food. Barb worked in outpatient nutrition services at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia for 18 years where she counseled individual clients, taught cooking classes, led grocery store tours, consulted to chefs of local restaurants and provided nutrition education to college and professional sports teams including the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies. She has worked extensively in diabetes care over the past 14 years -- first at Animas and currently with Novo Nordisk.
Megan Wolosky is a freshman at The University of North Florida, dual majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology. She has had type 1 diabetes for 15 years and has attended Friends for Life Orlando for the past nine years. In her free time, she enjoys practicing the Israeli Self Defense system called Krav Maga, where she has achieved level four in training. She is thrilled to be part of the childcare program this year!
Courtney Wright is a 21 year old student, studying for her bachelor's degree in biology at the University of South Florida Saint Petersburg with a focus of Pre-Veterinary Medicine. She is an active member of the Pre-Vet Society of USFSP and is currently a candidate for the position of treasurer. This will be her first year working as staff in the childcare program. She is looking forward to working with the "Little Ones" and meeting new people.
Friends for Life Orlando 2016 Conference Introduction - Registration - Sponsors - Exhibitors - Convention Center Map Página Principal - Registración - Facultad Sesiones Español Faculty: Parent & Adult - Youth - Spanish Track - Grandparents - Nightscout - Sports Central - Retinal Screening - CWD Staff Schedule: Parents and Adults - Youth - Meet Ups - Childcare Form - FAQs 4th of July Fireworks Fundraiser - You're a CWD Star! - Tribute Ads - Docu-Diabetes II Call for Movies
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