FFL, for our family, was about soaking up the support, activism, and enthusiasm of hundreds of families who are successfully LIVING with Type 1 diabetes. I can't point to any singular "event" -- just many small vignettes of older teens with Type 1 shepherding the little ones, of parents discovering that they truly are not alone, and kids just being kids. My heart is so full after this past week that it could burst.
Everytime I come to Disney, I ride "the Small World". It has been my favorite ride since I rode it for the first time when I was eleven. I love the music, I love the colors, the costumes, the ambience of diversity. While being there and hearing at the music, I realized all of us, families with diabetes, live in a small world. There is a unique reason bonding all of us from all over the world: Children with Diabetes, our small world. We laugh, we cry, we share, we hope."It's a world of laughter, a world or tearsOnce more a BIG THANK YOU!!!
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fear
Theres so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all"
FFL--It's the filling station for diabetes stuff, so we can make it through another year!
Most rewarding experiences of the year in regards to learning new information, being reminded of old information, and meeting new friends.
I guess it's sort of hard to sum up FFL into a few sentences…but here goes. We loved being there with other people who "get" it, and having McKenna around other kids having to deal with all the same stuff she does. The sessions we took were very informative, and in some cases, very funny! Going into this trip, McKenna (my dd, who turned 13 our second day there), had NO interest in having anything to do with the diabetes conference part. She was only interested in going to Disney. No matter how much I told her that it wasn't going to be like "diabetes school" for her, that she would just happen to be in Disney with other kids who had diabetes, she just wouldn't listen. (Did I mention that she turned 13?) As for my older daughter, who is 15, and relatively reserved (some would say shy), I wasn't sure how she would do -- If she would feel bored, if she would be included, or if she would feel it was like our usual topic of conversation at home (diabetes, diabetes, and more diabetes) magnified by 100. But on day 4 of our trip, both girls asked if we were coming back next year. When I asked if they wanted to, I got a loud, resounding "YES!" from both. Needless to say, not only did my husband and I love attending the conference, but knowing that they both loved it, too, made it even better.
FFL was encouraging to Sam in a way he never could have predicted - every story someone told that including drinking and peeing, he looked at me with a big smile - like, hey, I know what they are going to say next! He seemed to think that it was so funny that everyone else had that experience like he did. It was reassuring for us as parents to see people living healthy lives and being honest about the struggles they face.
Our experience at a Friends for Life conference is that we are with people that fully understand what our lives are like, what our concerns are, our fears and worries, etc. These same people also understand that we too are trying to find the joy in life with our families and children just like anyone else.
It was an overwhelming feeling to see my son bond with other kids that "get it." Though the week was hectic and crazy at times, I would not miss it for the world!
This was our first conference but my two daughters have had diabetes for ten and eight years respectively. Just meeting so many wonderful people from all over the state and even out of the country was a great experience. Also trying the continuous sensor for the first time was amazing. My husband and I really enjoyed Joe's session on not just a numbers game. He really opened our eyes to many things we may have already known. My husband also liked the dad's session.
The conference, as usual, was a huge success. We loved every minute of it and can't wait for next year and the next year and so on!! How you and all the other staff members do it every year is beyond me. Kudos to every single one of you.
Friends for Life says it all.
I loved from the beginning the positive, uplifting, forward-thinking drive behind all that is done and talked about during the conference. It is the most positive experience we have ever been involved with, and we fully intend on continuing our trips as we can.
It is not that often you meet a dog with diabetes.
Informative and exhausting.
The best week of the whole year! The feeling that everyone else there knows and understands what you are going through is priceless!
It is the week our children can celebrate their diabetes and be with friends who understand what they go through every day. It is a week of smiles and happy families.
My greatest experience at FFL is the fact that my daughter is proud to be diabetic and wears her green band with honor. It's also wonderful for her to make friends that understand life with diabetes.
I wish I could have been in two places at once sometimes. So much to take in. My absolute favorite was the one-on-one opportunity with the faculty after the sessions. I was able to ask questions and get very credible answers from some of the best professionals in the country. Those few minutes were worth the trip alone.
First and foremost, thanks to CWD for bringing together so many families to continue to share something that those on the "outside" typically do not "fully" understand. In the beginning, attending the conferences was really for me. Today it's for Brooke and Brett. It's taken many years for both of them to find their own ground at FFL, but I think they are there. Brett continually said to me things like, "I wish it were longer" and on the way home he said "was the conference shorter this year"?! It's obvious that he has made some true FFL – both with and without diabetes
Our experiences at FFL are indescribable. It's amazing. Every year we say this was the best year ever and then the next year is even better! We are so emotional by Sunday after breakfast that we don't want to leave.
Bob and Rhonda
We feel so relieved when we am amongst people who understand our day to day worries and concerns regarding our teenage diabetic son. It brings tears to my eyes to even think about it. In fact when I listened to Tom speak on the welcome reception, I could not stop the tears. Our son has had diabetes for 10 years and it does not get easier, until we are at the FFL conference...we will not miss another one until Trent is ready to fly the coup!
This was our first conference and we loved it. It was so great to Violet, 6, to be with other kids like her. It was also great for our teenagers to get a dose of reality... what Violet's life is really like. It was also very eye opening for my mom, who thought she knew what she needed to know since my dad died of diabetes complications in 1989. Needless to say, she knew a different disease; what we deal with now is a lot different!
FAMILY! The feeling of belonging and seeing my child "be one of the crowd" even if it's only for a few days. it's worth all the money I must save in order to bring her back next year.
Incredible! It does not matter how long you have been diagnosed, I learn more and more each time I go; even when I think I know what I need to be to successful in supporting Rachel; I always learn more, and better ways to help her. I wish everyone could make the trip!
Two sentences to describe the whole experience: It was simply rejuvenating. I feel like I have got a booster dose of knowledge, self esteem and energy to deal with this diabetes challenge for the next year.
Thank you again Laura for another amazing week. It was great to just spend some time among others who know what it's like. Being somewhere where carb counting and stopping to check are the norm is refreshing. I actually met some of my former councellors from the Diabetes camp up here in Ontario which was pretty cool.
I was blessed to be in the presence of so many parents who struggle with this disease daily, just like me. I was blessed to observe my daughter taking the skin off her pump, taking the covering off her sensor, and feeling free to simply be, with no explanation. Priceless.
FFL in a nutshell: an empowering experience with knowledge and kinship combined!
Packing up the quilt for Jeff proved to be incredibly emotional for me. I'm not moved to tears easily but folding those quilts was like handling lives - parents, grandparents, aunties, children - it really got to me. Powerful stuff.
I have never seen my teen so happy, although I only saw him five minutes before bed and five minutes for a few minutes after waking....he said mom I see you everyday, but these guys are my friends for life!
FFL conferences are a great opportunity to learn more about diabetes and what's on the horizon; and meeting and making new friends along the way is a BONUS! Last year we walked away looking forward to another conference next year, and this year even more so!
FFL rocks! We had a lot of fun, ate way too much and met some new "friends for life".
Wonderful learning experience. My 14 year old daughter took away great life information about managing her diabetes. This was well worth it.
I think the first two lines to the Jewel song "Hands" sums up what the FFL experience means to me:
If I could tell the world just one thing it would be that we are all ok. FFL conferences really give me the comfort to know that we are all ok even though we were dealt a different hand to deal with.
FFL allows my family to be surrounded by others that know just what we go through everyday. When we are there we don't have to explain why we can't go somewhere until after a BG or until we recover from a low. No questions asked.
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