Teen Program Staff
Sam Billetdeaux is thrilled to return to the teen program staff this year after missing FFL for the first time in 2014. Diagnosed at age 8, Sam has always been determined not to let diabetes get in the way of his ambitions. While those ambitions have changed over the years, the determination hasn't. Sam, now 25, lives in Brooklyn with his girlfriend Grace and his FFL Ben, whom he met over 10 years ago on a CWD Youth Ambassador trip to Italy. He enjoys biking with friends, going to the dog park, and seeking out the best pizza/ramen/coffee/brunch in New York!
Marilyn Fry, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Marilyn has been working with children with type 1 diabetes for 22 years. Her areas of interests include toddler feeding and exercise management. She is kept active and busy outside of work raising her two teenage daughters. Marilyn has a family history of diabetes but does not have diabetes herself.
Brian Grant, BSN, RN, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He loves working with people who have diabetes, and is looking forward to his fifth Friends for Life conference. Brian hopes one day to become a CDE. He currently resides in King of Prussia, PA, and works for Dexcom.
Alanna Landry RN, CDE, has been working as a pediatric diabetes nurse educator for 17 years at Markham Stouffville Hospital in Ontario, Canada. She has the privilege of working with 450 families with type 1 diabetes. After attending her first CWD FFL conference in 2004 she was hooked on the incredible experience and wants to continue to share this experience with the wonderful people she has met and encourage as many families as possible to attend. Working with the teen program has been something she looks forward to each year.
Jesse Nagel, 23, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 9 1/2 years old. He is a senior studying nursing at D'Youville College where he was elected Vice President of the Student Nurses Association. He has traveled to Washington, DC as an advocate with the JDRF Children's Congress and the ADA Call to Congress, and will continue meeting with his representatives until a cure is found. He has attended every FFL Orlando since 2003 as part of the elementary, tween, and teen groups. For the last few years he was a staff member with the elementary age children. This year, he is very excited to be a part of the Teen staff!
Tween Program Staff
Justin Abel attended his first CWD conference in 2002 after his daughter Sailor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2001 at age 2. Once he started attending more CWD conferences, his wife Sunshine did not have to twist his arm for him to realize he wanted to get more involved. Justin has been volunteering at CWD conferences since 2006. He is also dad to Sierra, who is a young adult volunteer with CWD.
Dana Dignard, RD, CDE, is a Registered Dietitian, CDE, and has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 30 years. She has worked with children and adults with type 1 diabetes for 25 years and her primary interest is Insulin Pump Therapy. Dana has been employed by Animas Canada for the last 9 years. This role, along with raising her two teenage children with her husband Dan, keep her very busy!
Trevor Gardner was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age 5. He attended Camp Huronda, a summer camp for children with diabetes in Ontario, Canada, where he worked his way up the ranks from a young camper to senior staff member. Trevor works in Toronto as a GIS/CAD analyst. In his spare time Trevor enjoys staying active by participating in sports, camping and simply enjoying the outdoors.
Sarah Melendez, BSN, RN, mom to Brady, diagnosed in 2004, resides outside of Philadelphia. They have been attending conferences since 2005 and have made CWD an integral part of their lives. A graduate of West Chester University with a Bachelor Degree in Nursing, Sarah currently works at with an orthopedic practice. Along with her passion for Diabetes and her goals to obtain her CDE, Sarah is extensively involved in local and overseas humanitarian aid. She has worked with disaster relief projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and has traveled to Haiti for medical trips, working extensively to schedule and finance pediatric orthopedic surgeries.
Melissa Pawlowski was diagnosed with diabetes when she was four. She went to her first CWD Conference in 2003 and has been attending Friends for Life Conferences ever since. Melissa has three siblings, Sarah, Kayla, Matthew. Matthew also has type 1 diabetes. Melissa graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2013 with a degree in Public Relations and Marketing. Currently living in Milwaukee and working as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the Woman's Club of Wisconsin.
Matthew Point, MS, is a higher education professional. He currently serves as the Director of Residence Life & Housing at Moore College of Art & Design in Center City, Philadelphia. Matt holds a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration & College Student Development. As part of his role on campus, he manages special accommodations for housing and dining plans for students with disabilities or dietary restriction and is responsible for all on-campus emergency management. Matt began attending CWD events two years ago to support his partner, who has type 1 diabetes. Matt's favorite parts of attending CWD events are getting to see all of the new technology, as well as reuniting with Type 1 and "Type 3" friends.
Kenny Rodenheiser, BSN, RN, 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 and currently works for Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. Kenny is striving to become a Certified Diabetes Educator and hopes to reach that accomplishment within the next two years.
Elementary Program Staff
Sunshine Abel, LPN, is the mother of Sierra and Sailor. She attended her first CWD conference with her family in 2002, after Sailor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2. Sunshine immediately knew she had found a new family and a new home where kids were experiencing the same thing as Sailor. She then made it her mission to involve her whole family. Sunshine is continuing her education working towards her RN degree. Sunshine has been working as a nurse and leader in the youth programs since 2006.
Grace Grande-Cassell is very excited to be staffing her fifth year of CWD 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.
Adrianne Cornette is a third year student at the University of Cincinnati. She's been attending CWD since 2008 and can't wait to be on staff this year! She aspires to be a pediatric endocrinologist and loves to work with kids. Here's to another year of great memories!
Amanda Coschi, BScN, RN, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 13 years. A graduate from McMaster University with a BScN in Nursing, Amanda now works with Animas Canada in pump training and education. She has been involved with the Diabetes Hope Foundation as a mentor and Alumnus. Amanda recently spent her 12th summer at Camp Huronda, where she worked her way up from camper, to staff, to camp nurse. When not working towards completing her CDE she can be found participating in Connected in Motion events.
Emily Dentinger was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 2 years old, and celiac when she was 8 years old. However, she asserts that type 1 and celiac have not slowed her down one bit from reaching her dreams. Now 19, Emily is very excited to be starting an Honours Kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo. She has participated in many CWD Canadian conferences and now wants to give back. Emily is volunteering with the Elementary Program at FFL Niagara Falls.
Michelle Ecker, RD, CDE, is excited to be involved in her first CWD conference. Her type 1 diabetes diagnosis at age five has led her down the path she is following today. Michelle has been working at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo as the Diabetes Research Manager for the past seven years and enjoys being a motivator for the patients! Outside of work, Michelle stays busy with her daughter and husband.
Michelle Rago is an attorney and mom of three children with diabetes. Her son Trent was diagnosed at age 4 in 2000. Her family adopted daughter Maya -- diagnosed at one month -- from foster care in 2006. Her daughter Michela was diagnosed in November 2013 at the age of 15. Michelle is active with the American Diabetes Association Legal Advocacy group. She was awarded the Ben Teel Memorial Prize for Public Service at Harvard (where she founded a homeless shelter); the Charles Evan Hughes Fellowship for Public Service at Columbia Law School (where she represented children in foster care and worked on desegregation); and the Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award (for her work with CWD families).
Jennifer Randall has had type 1 diabetes for 29 years. As a young girl she attended a summer camp for children with type 1 diabetes (Camp Huronda) and later became a staff member leading groups on canoe trips across Ontario's great north. Always up for an adventure, Jen can be found outside enjoying a day on the lake or a camping trip. In recent years she has been involved in various activities with Connected in Motion, helping to support and motivate other young adults living with type 1 diabetes.
Siblings Program Staff
Sierra Abel is the older sister to Sailor Abel, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2001. Sierra attended her first CWD conference with her family in 2002, where she was in the elementary group. She has now worked her way through all the programs, graduating from the teens at FFL 2011. Sierra and her family have been involved with CWD for many years now and she is excited to finally work with the kids. Sierra and her family live in New York.
Carolyn Billetdeaux has been attending FFL conferences since the age of 13. After growing up through the Teen and College Age programs, she now works as Coordinator of the Sibling Program. She presents diabetes as a family disease and focuses on sharing the sibling side of the experience. Carolyn majored in management and organizational behavior at New York University, and currently works as a Sustainability Consultant in the metro-DC area.
Robert Bulgarelli, DO, currently serves as National Medical Director, Highmark Inc. He has previously served as the Director of Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine for Main Line Health System, an affiliate of Jefferson Health System in suburban Philadelphia. He is a Board Certified cardiologist and maintains an active practice as a member of the Lankenau Heart Group. Dr. Bulgarelli is Co-Founder of Whole Life Health, a Behavioral Health company whose mission is the transformation of Health Care Delivery. His main area of interest and expertise includes practice of Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine. He is a skilled practitioner and teacher of meditation and is a Board Certified Medical Acupuncturist. In 2002, Dr. Bulgarelli was the 1st Cardiologist in the world to complete the two-year long Associate Fellowship in Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona. He has been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6ABC and CN8. He has been published and quoted in many local and national magazines, including Main Line Today, Men's Health and Shape. A graduate of Philadelphia College of Medicine in 1990, Dr. Bulgarelli completed his medical internship at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, PA and his medical residency and cardiology fellowship at Lankenau Medical Center. He has been a part of Main Line Health his entire clinical career that now spans over 20 years.
Erin Randall, RN, was first introduced to diabetes in 1986 when her sister, at the age of five, was diagnosed with type 1. She has been involved with Camp Huronda, a summer camp for children with diabetes in Ontario, where she met her husband (who happens to have type 1 diabetes). Her passion for giving back has led her to work with an amazing team at Markham Stouffville Hospital in the paediatric diabetes clinic. Erin combines her love of the outdoors and helping others as an ambassador for Connected in Motion.
Chris Joynes, RN, attended her first Friends for Life conference after her 6 year old daughter Molly was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March 2005. Chris loves working with children and has been a pediatric emergency department nurse for 11 years. She is excited to be full time staff and to give back to an organization that "provided my family with support, hope, motivation, and smiles once Molly was diagnosed." Chris is also mom to Andrew, Elizabeth, and Benjamin, who have grown up with CWD.
Lisa Pitt, RN, is mom to four beautiful daughters aged preschool to teens. She and her family began coming to Friends for Life conferences when her oldest was diagnosed with type 1 at age 3 in 2003. She also has been volunteering in childcare since 2010 and loves seeing her "extended family" - CWD. Lisa is a busy full-time mom and full-time cardiac nurse in the acute care setting. She believes ongoing education is the key to successful management of any chronic illness.
Helen Rodio, fiancée to Kenny Rodenheiser, is a first grade teacher at Folsom Elementary School in New Jersey. She has been attending conferences as a Childcare staff member sine 2011. She brings the knowledge and resources she learns from CWD to help any and all children affected by diabetes in her school. Helen is currently working towards earning her Masters in Special Education.
Sandy Spoth, RN,CDE, has worked as a diabetes educator at WCHOB Diabetes Center in Buffalo, New York for the past 10 years. She is very excited to be a team member for this conference and a part of an organization that benefits both individuals with type 1 and their families.
Friends for Life Canada 2015 Conference and Expo Introduction - Faculty and Staff - Youth Staff - Nightscout Faculty Program - Youth Program - Nightscout Parts List - Floor Plan FFL Canada Reports from 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2007
Last Updated: Monday September 14, 2015 18:37:27
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