Tween Programming Faculty
The Tween Team includes children between the ages of 9-12. Here, we begin to introduce more independence to our kids. We strive to use a fun and energetic approach to re-teach the basics for those who require it while exploring new theories and ideas.
Sarah Melendez, BSN, RN, mom to Brady, diagnosed in 2004, resides outside of Philadelphia. They have been attending Friends for Life® conferences since 2005 and have made Children with Diabetes® an integral part of their lives. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing at West Chester University. Sarah currently works as a Research Nurse for Medical Oncology and Phase 1 Clinical Trials at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA.
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.
Melissa Geren was diagnosed with diabetes when she was four. She went to her first Friends for Life® Orlando Conference in 2003 and has been attending Friends for Life® conferences ever since. Melissa has three siblings, Sarah, Kayla, and Matthew. Matthew also has type 1 diabetes. Currently, she works on the Marketing Team for Fannie May Confections in Chicago. Melissa looks forward to working with Tweens at Friends for Life Conferences each year.
Grace Grande-Cassell is very excited to be staffing her seventh year of Friends for Life 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.
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.
Philadelphia native John Cermak is the Founder of Climb for Type One Diabetes, a nonprofit dedicated to type 1 awareness and fundraising through mountain climbing. John has also volunteered at his local diabetes camp and attended the JDRF One Walk. John loves to be a part of the diabetes community and has loved attending Friends For Life in the past.
Sherry Chroniger, from Hanover, PA, is a CWD mom who has been a teacher for 23 years. She's the mom of three teens, and her oldest daughter was diagnosed with type 1 at age 12. Sherry and her family have been attending Friends for Life since 2013, and she is excited to join the Tween staff this year!
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.
John Gallagher was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2011. He has attended Friends for Life Orlando since 2013 and is excited to be joining the staff for the first time this years. He currently lives in Gainesville, FL and attends college at the University of Florida studying biochemistry. John works in the Brusko Lab at the University of Florida Diabetes Institute.
Tina Ghosn is mother to three children with diabetes. She is also an elementary school teacher and a US Veteran. She and her family attended their first Friends for Life Orlando conference in 2007, just months after their first and youngest child was diagnosed with type 1. They have attended FFL six times and each time learned new tricks and made new Friends for Life. Last year marked a turning point for her two oldest teens when the universe aligned and the two warring teens became FFLs while attending the conference. Miracles do happen! While currently living in the Seattle suburbs, she and her family have also lived in Texas and Northern California. When not teaching, playing with her many pets, reading, or hauling kids to various activities, Tina mentors families of newly diagnosed kids, volunteers with a local diabetes camp, and shares tidbits, advice, and humor about diabetes.
Josh Guidie is studying Sports Management at Canisius College in Buffalo New York. He is a volunteer firefighter and 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 now works in the youth programming.
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.
Brianne Jeske, RN, is a registered nurse, working on a general surgery floor in Fort Myers, Florida. Her brother was diagnosed with type 1 when he was five. He is now almost 13. Type 1 has definitely changed her family's lives, in a positive way. She has since learned much about type 1 and new technology since her brother’s diagnosis. She attended her first Friends for Life® Orlando conference in 2013, and is very excited to return to the tween staff this year!
Sarah Johnston 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 Youth Program Staff this year.
Sarah Melcher was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine years old. She volunteered at her first Friends for Life conference in 2009 and is excited to be taking the lead on the Tween Program at Friends for Life Canada in 2018. Sarah is a secondary school teacher, specializing in physical education. She has attended and worked at a diabetes summer camp in Ontario where she met many of her friends with diabetes.
Rachale Park is a part-time student at University of Central Florida and full time employee for Hilton Hotels. Rachale grew up with a mother who has had diabetes since the age of 11 and a 15-year old brother, who has had type 1 diabetes for 12 years. By volunteering at Friends for Life conferences, Rachale hopes to help lots of children, both siblings and kids with type 1, learn about diabetes and the diabetes community.
Sean Pitt is dad to four beautiful girls, the oldest of whom was diagnosed with T1D at age three. 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!
Jessica Plotts is 23 years old, a graduate of the University of Tennessee and was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of five. She has been coming to Friends for Life conferences since 2000. Jessica has attended the ADA Call to Congress multiple times, and is a camp counselor at the ADA's Camp Sugar Falls every summer. She cannot wait for Friends for Life Orlando 2018!
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.
Denotes faculty or staff with diabetes
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