Back to Friends for Life Orlando 2018 FFL Orlando 2018 Staff


Jeff Hitchcock is the Founder, President, creator, editor, and webmaster of Children with Diabetes®. After earning a degree in computational mathematics in 1981, Jeff worked in high tech and traveled the world, meeting Brenda, who would become his wife, in Africa. He worked in defense related industries until 1995, when he started a small Internet company and launched Children with Diabetes®. He subsequently worked at LEXIS-NEXIS and Pearson plc on Internet initiatives, and now works full time bringing Children with Diabetes® to you.


A finicky connoisseur of hotel meeting space, cappuccino, and kid-friendly cheese and fruit platters, Laura Billetdeaux is CWD's VP of Education and Programs. Since 2000, Laura has organized every single Friends for Life® conference, always keeping in mind the true purpose of Children with Diabetes® — education and support of families with type 1, and always keeping in mind why it all works – the efforts of so many dedicated individuals. Laura lives in Manchester, Michigan with her husband Neal. They are parents of Sam and Carolyn who both serve as faculty at Children with Diabetes® conferences as time allows.


Noor Alramahi was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six and is the proud mother of three-year-old 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 Orlando® for ten years and counting!


Carolyn Billetdeaux, MBA, has worn almost every 'hat' in her 18 years with CWD – from youth attendee to volunteer to staff to Tween & Siblings program leader – and played a key role in developing the Siblings youth programming track. She most recently took a year off to pursue her MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, where she focused on strategy and entrepreneurship while mastering her Spanish. Carolyn is extremely excited to be back with her CWD family this year. She looks forward to putting her new skills to use in acting as a mentor for new program leaders and working behind the scenes to help CWD continue to grow and thrive for the next generation.


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!


Cynthia M. Deitle, JD, LLM, is the Programs and Operations Director for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, a non-profit organization striving to replace hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance, and empowering individuals to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach and advocacy. Prior to her joining the Foundation, she served as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1995 - 2017. During her career with the FBI, she focused her efforts on investigating violations of federal civil rights statutes including police brutality and misconduct, hate crimes, human trafficking, and abortion extremism. Deitle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from The Ohio State University, her Juris Doctor degree from New England Law Boston, and a Master of Laws degree from both the George Washington University National Law Center and the New York University School of Law. She is a licensed attorney in Tennessee, Florida, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia and is an Adjunct Professor at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN. Deitle was featured in a February 2011 episode of 60 Minutes dealing with an unsolved Civil Rights Cold Case investigation in Mississippi, and she appeared in the first season of Investigation Discovery's series, The Injustice Files in 2011. After her two year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013, Deitle and her wife joined the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and attended their first Children With Diabetes Friends for Life (FFL) conference in Orlando. Deitle and her wife, Kristina L. Norris, joined the staff of FFL in 2016 and Deitle joined the FFL faculty in 2017 to address the legal needs of young adults with Type 1 diabetes. She currently serves as the President of the East Tennessee Chapter of the JDRF. Deitle and her family live in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Nabil Elarbi, father of four wonderful children, resides in King of Prussia, PA. He became involved with diabetes in December 2003, when his daughter Maryam was diagnosed with diabetes at age 10. He spent his first night at the hospital searching the internet for information on his laptop and stumbled onto the CWD website. It was then that he decided that his family was going to attend the 2004 Friends for Life conference in California. The entire family has been hooked ever since and look forward to it as the highlight of their year. Nabil has always had a special touch working with youth and young adults. He enjoys reading, traveling, and promoting health education in under-served communities. Nabil owns a small Healthcare IT consulting firm.


Paula Fairchild is a government agency criminal investigator and criminal justice instructor by profession, but her passion is diabetes advocacy and education. She attended her first FFL conference in 2006 after her daughter Emilee's 2004 T1D diagnosis, and quickly knew FFL is where they need to be each and every summer. Paula's sister and both uncles were diagnosed prior to Emilee's diagnosis, and FFL has provided them with invaluable education, resources, and friendships over the years. Paula is a volunteer regional Advocacy leader for JDRF, and mentors newly diagnosed families. She enjoys spending time with her daughter Emilee and family, and their chocolate lab/lap dog. Her favorite place to be (aside from FFL!) is the beach, and she enjoys running and exercising. She participates in the annual JDRF Ride to Cure 100 mile cycling events, helping to raise research funding and awareness for T1D.


Jimmy Fickling, also affectionately known as Jimbo, is the dad to rambunctious twins, Ava and Davis. Ava was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was three years old. When he's not serving juice boxes or replacing insulin pump batteries, Jimmy enjoys playing golf and coaching Davis's baseball team. Jimmy served for 20 years as a Deputy Sheriff in Charleston, South Carolina in the Special Operations Unit before moving with his wife, Leigh, to Durham, North Carolina in 2010. Jimmy is currently a Criminal Investigator with the Duke University Police Department where he specializes in threat assessment, threat management, and pharmaceutical drug diversion.


Ashley Head is husband to Shayne and dad to Jake (28) and Phoebe (22, Dx T1D 2001). He is Director of an International Event Logistics company, owns Lewes FC and organises an off-road marathon - The Moyleman - in Lewes, East Sussex. He has volunteered at Friends For Life in the USA since 2009 and was part of the team to help CWD set up the first FFL UK at Beaumont House. Ash takes care of the Sponsor/ Exhibit space at the conferences and works on the move-in and move-out crew. Ash is also a trustee of T1 Today UK.


Brenda Hitchcock is mom to Marissa (dx’d at 24 months), Kathryn, and Tim. She’s worked side by side with her husband Jeff on Children with Diabetes® since it began in 1995. Brenda brings a mom’s perspective to diabetes care, is editor of the “Ask the Diabetes Team” section of the Children with Diabetes® website, helps to manage the Children with Diabetes® Forums, and helps out in countless ways at Friends for Life® conferences.


David Jarcho has been a CWD Dad since 2011. His son was diagnosed at age 12 in 2010. Like most dads, David attended his first Friends for Life Orlando conference to support his son and family and learn all he could about type 1 diabetes. The experience was life-changing and he has volunteered at Friends for Life ever since. You can find David at the First Timers area (near Registration), welcoming new families to the Friends for Life community.


Marie Jarcho is mom of Max, (dx'd 2010) who is a sophomore in college, and wife to David. They live in Ridgefield, Connecticut. At their first Friends for Life conference they saw how impactful all the support would be to living well with Type 1, and the family has been helping out there ever since. Marie works for a home building company in Connecticut, and volunteers for the FFL First Timers/Buddy Program and the conference Registration desk, as well as the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.


Tom Karlya, Vice President of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, is known throughout the diabetes community as Diabetes Dad. He's the creator/author of, a daily syndicated column. His daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed at age 2 in 1992. In 2009, his son Rob was also diagnosed, at age 13. Tom has been introduced to the NY State Capitol, testified in Washington, D.C., and has lectured globally about being a DiabetesDad. With Kim May, a dMom from Texas, he created the website and FB page;, a grassroots effort spreading awareness about the detection/understanding of t1 diabetes. He received numerous commendations for his work in the Diabetes Community from Hurricane Katrina to advocacy initiatives. Tom was awarded The Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award from CWD in 2008; among many other awards from groups and organizations. For 12 years, as an actor, he starred in the New York Production of Tony 'N Tina's Wedding and also at The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., in Summer of the 17th Doll. His film, lbs., was at the Sundance Film Festival, and he appeared in Unsolved Mysteries, Spin City, The Cosby Show, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, America's Most Wanted, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and numerous commercials. He won 13 Telly Awards, a FREDDIE Award, and was nominated for an Emmy Award while Executive Producer of dLife on CNBC. His mantra; just "Don't do Nothing", is well known throughout the diabetes community. Tom will tell you that above everything else, he's just a CWD Dad.


Chad Kyllo lives in the great white north of British Columbia, Canada. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two and celiac at age seven. He has attended Camp Elphinstone in Gibsons, BC, since the age of six including leadership training, and he returned as a "Midnight Rambler" working with the medical staff doing the midnight and 3 a.m. blood glucose checks of the campers. Chad has attended many CWD conferences with his first one in 2002. He has helped at conferences working with children, as part of the Road Crew in the exhibit hall, and helping to keep the presentations running smoothly. To Chad, diabetes is a challenge he faces every day, but no more challenging than putting the right sock on the right foot. "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."


Scott Kyllo lives in British Columbia, Canada. He has two adult children, Alyssa and Chad. Their path along the diabetes road started in 1996 when his son, Chad, then age two, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when they were residing in Bahrain in the Middle East. The World Wide Web had just arrived in Bahrain and it brought to the Kyllo’s the safety of the Children with Diabetes® family. Two years later, when life was becoming somewhat comfortable and routine, Alyssa, then age 7, was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Chad was also diagnosed with celiac disease in 2001. The family attended their first Friends For Life® conference in 2002. Getting to meet the CWDers in person was like Christmas in July! Scott is a Chief Information Officer by day and an Aircraft Engineer by night maintaining a Piper Cherokee and a Mooney. These skills and his “MacGyver” qualities keep him running at the Friends For Life® conferences as its Information Technology and Audio/Visual support person. He is a strong advocate of Friends For Life® conferences and believes anyone with a connection to diabetes should attend at least one... although warns that the conferences are much like potato chips—it’s hard to stop at just one!


Lauren Lanning is mom of Monica, 24, dx 8/96 and Sarah, 22. Lauren became involved with CWD shortly after her daughter was diagnosed in 1996. She has been involved in the conferences since the very first gathering in Orlando in 2000, where she volunteered to make name badges. Since then, she ran Registration and then the Elementary program. This year Lauren is excited to continue with the Mom's Meet Ups track in Orlando.


Hannah Mattingly is 22 and the older sister to Ethan Mattingly, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1998. Hannah and her family have been to all 18 Friends for Life Orlando conferences, and many of the regional conferences. Hannah started in childcare at four years old and has moved through all the youth programs. She will be in her fourth year at Spalding University in Louisville Kentucky majoring in Health Science & Health Care Management. Hannah is so excited to help in registration this year and reconnect with all her Friends for Life.


Julia Mattingly is mom to 22 year old Hannah and 20 year old Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 months and started pumping when he was three. Julia has been to every Friends for Life® conference and most of the regionals as well. Julia coordinates registration at each conference, and you can always find her when you need a smile and a “Hi Y’All!” Julia loves coordinating registration and being able to meet and talk to everyone who walks in the door. Her best Friends for Life® memory is from 2000 when she met all of her CWD email moms in Orlando for the first time. She also loves to see the smiles on her children’s faces when they re-connect with their CWD friends each summer.


Carolyn Meredith is mom to Chelsea, Jeremy, and Bailey and wife to Rich. Jeremy was diagnosed with diabetes in May 2000 at the age of six. He started on an insulin pump in October 2002. Carolyn and her family attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and have been involved with CWD ever since. They have also attended several regional conferences. When not running mom's taxi service, Carolyn works in the office at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida. She enjoys meeting and sharing with other CWD families.


Rich Meredith is dad to Jeremy (dx'd 2000), Bailey, and Chelsea. He has been involved in CWD since the family attended their first conference in 2003. His day job is working in IT but on the side he makes "big bowls," hand thrown pottery pieces which have been found at diabetes and community art related fund raising auctions. Rich can often be found snapping photos at the conferences and now helps coordinate load in, load out, and the Exhibit Hall volunteer staff.


Shari Michaelson hails from Ajax, Ontario. Along with son Tayler (age 24, dx’d in 2004) and daughter Connor (age 13), Shari has attended Friends for Life conferences since 2009. After their first FFL Orlando, Shari realized that ‘every summer has to include FFL.’ Shari will volunteer with the Registration Team this summer in preparation for leading the Registration Team at FFL Canada in November. She is thrilled to give back to an organization that has supported her family for so many years!


Betty Parker, a CWD grandma who lives in Manning, South Carolina, has been coming to Friends for Life conferences since 2004. She has four grandchildren, including Joshua who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2003. Betty has also attended three regional conferences in Marco Island and the Quilt for Life display in Washington D.C. Betty enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, playing tennis, exercising, reading and traveling. She is very happy to volunteer with the registration staff this year.


Chris Pawlowski is Mom to Melissa, Sarah, Kayla, and Matthew, wife to Dave and lives in Wisconsin. Melissa and Matthew both have type 1 diabetes. Melissa was diagnosed at age four and Matthew at age two. Chris enjoys figure skating and is the director of the Manitowoc County Figure Skating Club. The family started attending Friends for Life conferences in 2003 and have been to every one since. Chris has learned a lot from the conferences and now enjoys working with the Exhibit Hall Staff. She is looking forward to seeing everyone this summer in Orlando!


Dave Pawlowski is married to Chris and Dad to Melissa, Sarah, Kayla, and Matthew who are all members of the CWD FFL Staff. Dave and his family first attended Friends for Life in 2003 and have been every year since, both as attendees and volunteers. When not working as an attorney in Manitowoc, Wisconsin or spending time at home with family, Dave is an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers.


Matthew Pawlowski was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He will attend the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, majoring in Accounting and Supply Chain Management. Matthew has been coming to Friends for Life since 2003 and is proud that he has gone through the entire FFL education program. He has three sisters: Melissa (dx’d 2/95), Sarah, and Kayla, who are all on FFL staff. He is excited to join the exhibit hall staff in Orlando!


Deb Ruppert looks forward to meeting and being inspired by FFL attendees at each conference. Her dad has had diabetes for nearly three decades and she enjoys being a part of his support team, sharing her FFL learnings with him. Outside of Children with Diabetes, she is a strategic marketing consultant for health and wellness companies and enjoys cooking, college basketball and football, and her four-legged fur baby.


Kristen Seiz, MS, RD, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine. Managing this untamable disease initiated a career in healthcare for her. She earned her Masters degree in Dietetics at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. Kristen’s first CWD conference was in 2011. She fell in love with the people and relationships she formed. In 2015, Kristen became the dietitian for the conferences and has loved it ever since. Between menu planning, carbohydrate counting and allergy accommodations, she is looking forward to tasting all the food, working with the kids, seeing old friends and making many more!


Kylee Smith, age 20, is the sister to Joshua Smith, age 18, who was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of three in 2003. From the day Josh was diagnosed, Kylee has always been actively involved with Joshua's diabetes care. During the one and only seizure Josh had, Kylee played a huge part in making sure mom and dad had his Glucagon and getting the EMTs to the house. Kylee participated as a sibling at the CWD conferences from 2004-2013 and made lifelong friends. She has missed the past few conferences to pursue her dream of obtaining a scholarship to play softball in college, which she successfully accomplished. She is a sophomore at the University of North Georgia studying International Affairs with a minor in French. Kylee is very excited to finally be back at FFL. She looks forward to putting on her orange bracelet, reconnecting with her friends and making many more friends for life.


Randy Smith has been involved with Children with Diabetes since 2004, following the diagnosis of his son Josh, in October of 2003. Randy, his daughter Kylee, and Josh’s mother all volunteer as Staff at Friends for Life, along with Josh’s grandmother, Betty Parker. Randy has participated in events and conferences in California, Washington, DC, and Orlando, with the primary intent of being a better caregiver and dad. CWD is at the heart of medical support as well as the much needed human support side of this equation. We look forward to continued improvement and therapies until such time as diabetes has been resolved and our children can live a diabetes free life. Until that time, we will be ever diligent with support to the medical community and CWD.


Tracey Smith is mom to Kylee and Joshua, and they live in Suwanee, Georgia. Joshua was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2003 at the age of three. With all of the overwhelming information given to her as a newly diagnosed mom, Tracey found comfort in the Children with Diabetes website. In 2004, the entire Smith family including Mimi, Betty Parker, attended their first Friends For Life conference in Los Angeles, California. That was all it took to realize that this is where her family needed to be every summer to make life a little easier on everyone. Tracey has since volunteered at every Friends for Life conference. Tracey has gone back to work as the Controller of Haven Design Works, an interior design firm, in Suwanee, Georgia. Her favorite time of the year is the Children With Diabetes conference where she reconnects with friends and greets everybody as they check in at the Registration Desk.


Joanne Stroud, MHA, FACHE, is first and foremost a CWD Mom. Her son Ben was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 10 and Children with Diabetes® quickly became their lifeline. She attended her first Friends for Life® conference in 2003 and instantly became hooked, telling Laura she’d do anything (within reason of course!) she could to assist Children with Diabetes®. Both Ben and his brother James are now ‘giving back’ as Friends for Life® staff. When not hanging with her FFLs, Joanne is a Training Specialist for Kinnser Software. She and Jim, a CRNA, have one other son, Kyle who lives in Portland, with his wife Sarah.


David Sutherland is husband to Gwen and dad to Jamie (32), Gemma (30), Sarah (28) and Rebekah (22, Dx T1D in 1998) and now doting Grandpa to Aaden (born in May 2016). David attended his first CWD Conference in 2010 and is on the CWD Staff not only in the UK but also in Orlando, which he finds very rewarding. He is a criminal defence lawyer in Aberdeen, running his own business, and when not in court enjoys working out in the gym, cycling, trying to play golf, and watching sport.


Gwen Sutherland is a volunteer on both sides of the Pond having attended her first UK Friends of Life Conference in 2010 after being encouraged to attend when daughter Rebekah (Dx T1D 1998 aged 3) was receiving her pump training. In 2013, Gwen and Bex attended their first Orlando Conference and she has been on the registration team ever since. Gwen is an avid supporter of JDRF, organising several fundraising events along with Bex, and was a member of the Scottish Ball Committee, helping to raise over £1million during this time. Gwen lives in Aberdeen, with husband David; they have four children – Jamie, Gemma, Sarah and Rebekah and are now doting grandparents to Aaden, who was born in May 2016. Gwen is also a trustee and Chairperson of T1 Today UK.


Chris Tull became involved with CWD shortly after his son's diagnosis in 2002. He has served as a Legislative Chair for his local JDRF chapter and has been involved with Teen Program and security matters for CWD since his first conference. His son, Trevor, moved through the CWD teen program and is now a successful adult managing his own diabetes. Chris credits CWD with helping his son and his family better manage and live with his diagnosis. Chris is a police sergeant in Virginia Beach and a former Marine.


Martin Yaravitz lives in Rochester, NY. He is father to Hannah, who was diagnosed in 2015 at the age of seven. As luck should have it, the family discovered Children with Diabetes that year and attended their first Friends for Life conference that summer. The experience at Friends for Life was almost as life changing as the diagnosis itself. Martin owns and operates an IT consulting company in the upstate NY area. He and his family are large champions of Friends for Life and encourage any T1D family to check it out and get involved in some way.

  Denotes faculty or staff with diabetes

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