Back to Conference Report Friends for Life 2008 Report - Wednesday

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Wednesday was Focus Group Day at the conference. Over forty focus groups were offered by conference sponsors, and included a very wide and exciting range of topics. The focus groups were limited to about 30 participants per group, so they were very interactive and lively. Many thanks to the focus group leaders as well as the participants for getting an early start on the conference!

Also on Wednesday, we were very pleased to have the FDA join us for two sessions, one on glucose monitoring and one about continuous sensing. Additionally, the National Diabetes Education Program presented two sessions about transitioning to adult care (one for teens and one for their parents), and TrialNet presented a session about Participating in Research – The Parent's Perspective.

Exhibitors continued to set up their booths all day Wednesday, and the last few Quilt squares were added. It was quite an undertaking. The exhibit hall was a tremendously busy place, with forklifts bringing large crates to the various vendors, carpet being laid, thatched huts built ... and Wii's and photo booths set in place!

Throughout the day, the registration area was buzzing as well. Registration Coordinators Lisa Anstine, Joanne Stroud, and Mary Podjasek kept the teams of registration volunteers organized and smoothly functioning. By the end of the day, nearly all registration packets had been picked up and everyone was accounted for!

A number of receptions were held on Wednesday. Nicole Johnson opened the reception day with a breakfast for young adults, and was joined by Doug Burns and Paul Madden (as well daughter Ava!). This was an opportunity for the college age crowd to share their ideas about CWD programming for the future. At 11:00, the grandparents met for a getting-to-know-you coffee hosted by Betty Brackenridge and CWD Granders Bruce and Rachele Baccaro. Bruce, Rachele, and Betty have been very involved in developing the grandparents program over the last year, and this was the first time that most in the room had ever met face to face despite frequent emails!

Wednesday afternoon, families from around the world met for the International Reception hosted by Adriana Rodenheiser, Adriana Cordoba, and Intissar Ben Halim. Fifteen countries were represented at Friends for Life, with 150 participants of all ages. The international reception, sponsored by LifeScan, afforded the international guests an opportunity to meet each other and share stories of culture and family before immersing in the conference itself.

This year, we were thrilled to have 900 First Timers with us! That is an amazing number – we have never had so many first timers attend a Friends for Life event, and it was so special. The First Timers Reception kicked off promptly at 3:00 p.m., with First Timer Hospitality Coordinators Nabil Elarbi and Katie Daugherty leading the festivities. Lauren Lanning and Tom Karlya, both tried-n-true CWD parents and staff, kept the activities and presentations on track. Families met CWD President Jeff Hitchcock, as well as other key program staff.

The First Timer Teens had their own very fun reception in the Wedgwood Ballroom, led by Natalie Bellini and Jim Vail. There were 80 first timer teens this year (again, the largest number ever), and after their own ice-breaker, they were joined by other 'old timer' teens who were there to welcome them with typical CWD teen warm friendship.

By 5:00, the exhibit hall was just about ready for the Grand Opening Reception. The red ribbon was hung ceremoniously across the entrance unit to the main doors… and the giant scissors were ready to go. By a few minutes before 6:00, the crowd filled the prefunction space and spilled down the hallway. Right at 6:00, Pumpy from Roche Diagnostics – along with CWD's Laura Billetdeaux - welcomed conference participants and asked all the kids to count down the ribbon-cutting. And with that – the exhibit hall opened and the conference was officially underway! Many thanks to Roche Diagnostics for sponsoring this incredible grand opening reception for yet another year!


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New to Wednesday's Focus Groups was a Young Adult Breakfast to learn about sessions of interest to this growing group of Friends for Life attendees
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After cutting the ceremonial ribbon, Pumpy met with kids for photographs in the Roche Diagnostics booth
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Team Type 1 members Matt Brooks (left) and Phil Southerland (right) met with families at the Abbott Diabetes Care booth on opening night
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During the Grand Opening Reception, Manny Hernandez from Tu Diabetes had a chance to meet Marissa Hitchcock
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