Back to Conference Report Friends for Life 2008 Report - Friday

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Friday began with a yummy, healthy breakfast in the Atrium and Crystal Ballroom, sponsored by Animas. The day was absolutely packed full of sessions and discussion groups for parents. Each hour, there was a choice of up to 13 different sessions on all different topics and all different levels. There truly was something for everyone, whether you were brand new to type 1 diabetes or had been managing diabetes for years. Some highlights included a few new CWD sessions: Making a Diabetes Emergency Kit, Non-Traditional Families and Diabetes Management, Transitioning to Adult Care, and Nutrition for the Athlete with Diabetes.

Betty Brackenridge continued Day 2 of the Grandparents Track. The 'Grands' are a growing group at FFL – this year numbering over 100. Betty's programming for the grandparents on Thursday and Friday included discussion groups, as well as very specific topics such as Reclaiming Sleepovers and Getaways, and Blood Glucose Monitoring for Grandparents. Many thanks to Rachele and Bruce Baccaro for serving as hostess and host of the grandparents groups, and providing a warm welcome to all involved!

Eli Lilly sponsored a wonderfully festive lunch with a BBQ theme, red and white balloons, and a very upbeat atmosphere. They spent all morning decorating the Atrium, and it was much appreciated!

Also of note on Friday were the research-oriented sessions. These included the NIH Research Update presented by Dr. David Harlan and the Diabetes Research Institute session Tissue Engineering: New Frontiers for Insulin Replacements. At the end of the day, Dr. Anthony Cheung looked to the future with a session about Genetic Engineering. Many parents commented that these scientific sessions were their favorites in that they presented 'the science' – not dummied down – but in a way that was both realistic and still hopeful for all of us. Additionally, many of the researchers and scientists stayed through Friday evening to present their work in a poster session format.

Additional session highlights included CDC's Ann Albright discussing Choosing a Career, and the ADA's Crystal Jackson and Larry Deeb discussing the Safe at School Program. Crystal also worked 1:1 with families needing assistance with problem-solving at school.

The moms and dads discussion groups were well-attended, as always. Led by CWD moms Lauren Lanning and Michelle Rago, and facilitated by Barbara Anderson-Thomas, the moms group covered many topics and a wide range of emotions. The dads group, led by Tom Karlya, offered the opportunity for many first-timer dads to share their thoughts and ask questions.

Chris Dudley, sponsored by Accu-Chek, had two Friday sessions with parents. In the morning, he met with parents of athletes for a discussion group, and in the afternoon, he closed the conference with a session called Pulling It All Together. Chris has participated in the Friends for Life conference for several years; he is a great role model (and a great person), and we truly enjoy having him with us!

The Exhibit Hall opened early on Friday and offered free admission to the public in the late morning and early afternoon. Some area families did take advantage of this opportunity. The exhibit hall continued to be busy right up until closing time at 3:00! A big thank you to Unomedical for sponsoring the refreshments in the Exhibit Hall on both Thursday and Friday.

The teens headed off on buses to Islands of Adventure for a day in the park, sponsored by Sanofi Aventis. While on the surface, this excursion may look like a Play Day, in reality there are pages and pages of learning objectives behind it. A lot of planning and responsibility goes into spending a day in a hot park with lots of activity and other things to keep track of, and the teen staff encouraged the teens to be as independent as possible in managing the day. Teens checked in periodically at the Navigator Lounge for a blood glucose check and a 'once over' (for those without diabetes), and the day went very smoothly! Many thanks to the chaperones for the day: Neal Billetdeaux, Chris Tull, Jim Vail, Scott Nagel, Anna and Mark Troisi, Ben Loebner, Chuck Vallelonga, Bob Schmidt, Jeff Schmidt, Galen Horton, Bob Marquess, and Ken Rodenheiser ... and of course huge thanks to Natalie Bellini, who coordinated and watched over the day.

The Tween Group had a very fun Friday, beginning with a Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibit Hall. They continued the day with some serious discussion facilitated by Joe Solowiejczyk and Neal Kaufman. After lunch, the Tweens watched the film Diabetes Around the World and had discussion with Dr. Fran Kaufman (who directed the film) and Amany Maher from the United Arab Emirates. The day finished on a high-energy note with DJ Miles – music and games!

Elementary kids meanwhile got into small groups for a field trip to visit the Quilt for Life with Ken Moritsugu, Nicole Johnson, and Zippora Karz. The children were very attentive to the quilt squares and asked many excellent questions. Following the visit to the Quilt, the kids joined CWD's Roving Sports Central VIPs for some fun in the Yellowtail Ballroom! After lunch, the elementary group spent high energy time with DJ Miles, and then worked on an art project in a calmer environment. This project, facilitated by Nicole Johnson and her young daughter Ava, helped the children put closure on their two full days of sessions.

Friday night was a huge social evening! The teens held a very special Teen Dinner Dance – Italian Style, sponsored by Bayer Healthcare. It was a fancy affair in the Wedgwood Ballroom, and the teens looked absolutely beautiful. Musician and CWD Teen Nikki Lang played the guitar and sang for the teens during dinner. Her special music was much appreciated.

Across the Atrium in the Coral Ballroom, the Tween group had their own Friday evening social – this time with karaoke! DJ Miles made the evening fun and interactive, and the evening's sponsors – LifeScan – had some extra special glowy, sparkly, blinky treats for the tweens! What a special evening. Many thanks to Kim Kelly and Melissa Ringley for arranging all the goodies, and to the many chaperones who kept the environment safe and fun.

Down the hall in the Crystal Ballroom, the young adults had dinner together, followed by Salsa dancing instruction! This was the first time that the young adult group was large enough to offer such an evening social, and we will continue to do so at future FFL conferences. The feedback was very positive (and they did learn to salsa!). Many thanks to Bayer Healthcare for sponsoring this very fun evening!

New this year – Poster Sessions with the Faculty! CWD President Jeff Hitchcock invited the conference faculty to bring a poster representing their latest work or research – and the room was literally full by 9:00. These were scientific and high level, and this was a great opportunity for those conference participants who enjoy this type of exchange to meet the presenters and ask the detailed questions. This event will be repeated in future years – many thanks to Smiths-Medical for sponsoring the evening!

Many thanks to today's sponsors, faculty, staff, and volunteers, who enabled this extraordinary day to happen!


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It's not only the kids who have fun -- just ask Loretta, Janace, or Mary Ann
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Teens were up early on Friday for the Teen Day at Islands of Adventure
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Dr. David Harlan from the NIH/NIDDK brought us up to date on cure-related research
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After hanging his new quilt panel with help from Nicole Johnson, Dr. Ken Moritsugu and Nicole, along with Elementary Staff, posed for a photo with some of the elementary kids
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Displayed at Friday's luncheon, sponsored by Eli Lilly, were panels from Lilly's booth with decorations from kids who visited their booth
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