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Teen Programming Staff

The teen program helps and supports teens with type 1 and their siblings. The focus is on developing strategies to address diabetes-related concerns as the teens move towards adulthood. Emphasis is placed on independence of self-care, and reliance on peer and familial relationships. Information is presented in a unique way that maintains the teens interest and respects their maturity and independence.


 

Alanna Landry, RN, CDE, has had the privilege of working alongside the T1D community as a pediatric diabetes nurse educator for 22 years at Markham Stouffville Hospital in Ontario, Canada. After attending her first CWD FFL conference in 2004, she was amazed and inspired by the incredible experience. Working in the teen program has been something she looks forward to each year.



 

Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDE, graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and later earned her Certified Diabetes Educator credential. She has had type 1 diabetes since the age of two and has grown up with a passion for helping families living with diabetes. Marissa is currently working as a research nurse at Stanford University. She has always enjoyed working with families with diabetes at Children with Diabetes conferences, camps, and support groups. She and her husband Adam have two young children, Connor and Everly.



 

After having spent years on the sideline as the "spouse" of one of the faculty members, Neil Benchell decided it was time to get involved with CWD and Friends for Life®. As one of the Teen Staff members, Neil is always in the thick of trying to make the conferences a more memorable experience for all. In addition to his work with CWD, Neil is an attorney practicing in the area of intellectual property litigation, and has represented a number of diabetes-related organizations.



 

Mike Avery has lived an exciting a Hollywood life since his diagnosis with diabetes in 1993. At the age of three, dressed as a trouble-making troll, Mike became the youngest stunt performer in the industry. By age 12, he was a precision driver able to intentionally spin and crash his car. Since then, Mike has made a career of crashing cars, falling off of buildings, and getting set on fire. He has jumped from bridges, helicopters, and airplanes pretending to be some of Hollywood’s biggest names. He has over 100 film, television, and commercial credits and is known for his work on Titanic (1997), The Prestige (2006), Ocean’s 13 (2007), The O.C., Hannah Montana, Grimm, and Horrible Bosses (2011) among others. A lifelong athlete, Mike more recently became interested in sprint distance triathlons. In 2015, he completed his first full Ironman as part of Riding on Insulin’s Endurance Team, which included 40 other athletes with diabetes. His advocacy efforts leading up to the Ironman helped Mike realize his true passion – educating and encouraging fellow people with diabetes. Mike finds that staying active, using an insulin pump, and a strong support system have helped him lead a healthy and exciting life. His athletic commitments in 2016 include three full Ironman races, several half-marathons, and sprint races around his hometown of Los Angeles.



 

Kevin Covais is an actor, singer, and diabetes advocate. He is most recognized as a Top 12 Finalist on the fifth season of "American Idol", which aired in 2006. On the show, Kevin was mentored by several award-winning recording artists including Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow, and he placed 11th overall. Since his "Idol" days, Kevin has transitioned into acting. His credits include a lead role in the 2008 MGM comedy, "College", a supporting role in the family film, "Touchback", starring Kurt Russell, as well as a role in 2014's summer blockbuster, "Transformers: Age of Extinction". Kevin has also made several television appearances including a guest star credit on the FOX show, "Raising Hope". Disney Channel fans know Kevin best as Victor Deleseur on the hit show, "Good Luck Charlie". Kevin was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 11 and has worked with the Diabetes Research Institute for many years. He is thrilled to be a part of Children with Diabetes again after making his first CWD appearance in 2006.



 

Jess Forster, MSW, RSW, is a social worker who is passionate about connecting with children and families living and thriving with type 1 diabetes. For the past 11 years, Jess has worked at the Markham Stouffville Hospital Pediatric Diabetes Clinic in Markham Ontario Canada, and she is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the CWD Friends For Life conference in Orlando.



 

Brian Grant, BSN, RN, CDE, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He loves working with people who have diabetes, and is looking forward to serving as faculty at the Friends for Life Orlando conference. He currently resides in King of Prussia, PA, and works as a CDE at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with a focus on diabetes technology.



 

Kathryn Hitchcock, sister of Marissa (dx’d at 2 years old), is a candidate for a Master’s in Nutritional Science degree at the University of Cincinnati. She currently works as a teaching assistant in the food science lab training future dietitians. She spends her weekends at a charitable food pantry teaching the importance of healthy eating to community members. She is passionate about nutrition, especially related to diabetes. After she finishes her graduate program, she plans to become a registered dietitian and work with individuals with diabetes.



 

Russ Johnston has two people near and dear to him that have type 1, and has been coming to CWD and Friends for Life Conferences since 2015. Russ graduated from Marquette University in 2015 from the School of Education and is currently a high school math teacher in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. Russ is very excited for his first year on staff and could not be more ready to help make the CWD conference a great experience for everyone.



 

Alyssa Kyllo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven, two years after her younger brother, Chad. Alyssa's FFL experience began in Pasadena in 2002, and has continued ever since. At the age of eight, she started attending Camp Kakhamela (a D-Camp in British Columbia), and continued through their leadership program to become a camp counselor at 17 years old. She is now 27 years old, living in Kamloops, B.C. with her dog Blue and working full time for the Kamloops & District BC SPCA. She is an avid Curler in the winter season and a certified Narcotics Dog Handler. Alyssa is thrilled to be working with CWD again this year!



 

Hannah Lambert, BSN, RN, age 25, received her nursing degree from Quinnipiac University and works at Florida Hospital Memorial on the Surgical Progressive Care Unit. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old in 2005. Ever since, she has attended the annual Friends for Life Orlando conference to stay updated on new research and technology. Hannah grew up on the east coast of Florida and loves traveling, photography, volleyball, adventure, and helping others. This is her third year volunteering with the teens and she is very excited to be back!



 

Carter Landry, 22, is from Whitby, Ontario Canada. He is a fourth year Criminal Justice major, studying in Wheeling, West Virginia. Carter has attended five previous Friends for Life conferences and enjoys it more and more every year. He is looking forward to being a teen leader again this year.



 

Hannah Opdenaker is excited to wear a green bracelet again this summer with some of her favorite "diabesties." Hannah was diagnosed with type 1 at age 3 in 1999, and has been attending CWD conferences since 2001. She has just graduated with a B.A. in Theatre and Political Science from Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Hannah is a stage actress with a focus in dance and contemporary movement. Offstage, Hannah is a proud dog mom to Ruby, Bella, and Atticus. Hannah plans to pursue a Master's Program in Theatre Education, and begin teaching theater in under developed urban settings, proving that nothing can stop you from pursuing your passions - even diabetes.



 

Ernie Prado serves as a Special Projects and Super Guppy Sustaining Engineer in the Aircraft Operations Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Previously he worked at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF) where astronauts train prior to spaceflight. At the SVMF, he led projects to create, maintain, and upgrade full-size International Space Station trainers and mockups that astronauts use during the course of their careers. In addition to his work at NASA, he is involved in manufacturing large-scale 3D Printers. Ernie holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering & Aeronautical Sciences and Engineering from UC Davis. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15 and has been on an insulin pump since 2011. While wearing an insulin pump and CGM, Ernie has achieved 8Gs in a centrifuge during an Aeromedicine study.





  Denotes faculty or staff with diabetes




  Friends for Life® Orlando 2018 Conference  
  Introduction - Registration Information - Conference Registration - Sponsors - Exhibitors - FAQ  
  Faculty - Grandparents Faculty - Sports Central Staff - Retinal Screening Staff - CWD Staff - Fellows - Special Guests  
  Teen Staff - Tween Staff - Elementary Staff - Child Care Staff - Orange Team Staff  
  Conference Schedule: Parents & Adults Program - Youth Program - Meet Ups - Child Care Registration  
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Last Updated: Saturday March 24, 2018 13:08:11
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