Wednesday was the 4th of July, and many families headed to the Marriott World Center pool to enjoy the sunshine, warm temperatures, and happy smiles of other CWD families. It was also somewhat of a 'park day' for those who were inclined to brave the crowds and the heat at the theme parks.
The day featured lots of fun time for CWD families who stayed on site at the hotel. Lee Ann Thill held a Diabetes Art Drop-In workshop, and many wonderful pieces were created by adults and children alike ... it was very cool to see entire families working together on artwork made from 'diabetes junk.'
The Grandparents and Caregivers Drop-In and Camp were held in the morning and afternoon, offering participants the opportunity to meet other grandparents and caregivers and get some basics under their belts before sessions began on Thursday. The Grands program is very hands-on, and we had lots of staff on site helping this year! Many thanks to Heather Speer and Bruce and Rachele Baccaro for coordinating the program, and to Bruce Buckingham, Jen Block, Richard Rubin, Betsy Norsworthy, and Julie Baccaro for facilitating sessions. Each year we hope to encourage more Grands and Caregivers to join us!
Adults with type 1 were formally welcomed on Wednesday by Scott Johnson and Kerri Sparling who were on site from 1:00-3:00 with a friendly smile, hug, and "Welcome!" Scott and Kerri have done a great job coordinating the Adults with Type 1 program for FFL; and the increased attendance this year (about 300 adults with type 1) was testament to that.
Dr. Ben Szirth and his team completed their first full day of retinal screenings on Wednesday. This was Dr. Szirth's 6th year providing retinal screenings at Friends for Life. His team provided screenings for hundreds of people with type 1 diabetes – the most he has ever screened at a CWD conference. For the first time, Dr. Ben brought a machine that provided a cross-section view of the retina -- amazing! Many thanks to the Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the New Jersey Medical School for supporting Dr. Ben's participation once again this year.
Wednesday afternoon also featured the First Timers Welcome Reception. Over 800 First Timers joined us at Friends for Life this year – and the Reception was their first formal opportunity to learn about CWD, meet some of the staff, and most importantly – meet each other! Tom Karlya, Jeff Hitchcock, Richard Rubin, and Laura Billetdeaux welcomed the group, and CWD Dad David Jarcho spoke emotionally to everyone about his family's experience last year when they were First Timers at FFL 2011. It was very moving, and there were tears and nods of agreement in the crowd as he shared his family's story.
The day ended with many families watching the holiday fireworks ... and getting to bed early in anticipation of the opening breakfast and keynote on Thursday morning!
Leighann and Q ... first timers
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Dr. Andrea Scaramuzza brought a group of teens with type 1 from Italy
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Monica adds to the FFL 2012 signature quilt panel
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