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The Conference Faculty

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Natalie Bellini, R.N., C.D.E., has had diabetes since she was a young child and within a year of finishing nursing school started to care for people with diabetes, first focusing on high risk pregnancy and then pediatrics and insulin-requiring adults. She has lectured extensively to clinicians, patients and their families about diabetes, the psychological effect of the disease and how to keep going on the hardest of days. Natalie has worked with children and adults of all ages and has assisted in initiating and expanding pump programs at numerous hospitals and private practices. She is currently a Territory Manager with Animas Corporation. Natalie believes in truth in education and that knowledge is power. She enjoys working with children and teens, and has a second full-time job as mom of her own teen, Erin. Natalie will be leading the Teen Program at this Friends for Life conference.


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Betty Brackenridge, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., has worked for decades providing patient and professional education in Phoenix, Arizona. The author of Diabetes 101 and Sweet Kids, books for people living with diabetes, and of numerous professional publications, Ms. Brackenridge is a powerful and entertaining speaker on both the human and medical aspects of living with and caring for diabetes.


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Matthew Brown, M.D. is a pediatrician and pediatric diabetologist from Boise, Idaho. Dr. Brown has been a member of CWD's DTeam for many years. In addition to his general pediatric practice, Dr. Brown takes care of many of the kids, teens and young adults with Type 1 diabetes in his area. When he began his practice in Idaho in there was no pediatric endocrinologist in the state and many of the kids and teens with diabetes came to his practice because of his experience caring for diabetes and his involvement with Idaho's diabetes camps -- Camp Hodia (www.hodia.com). Dr. Brown also enjoys skiing and snowboarding and began Idaho's first winter camp for diabetes -- Ski Hodia which has been thriving for 6 years now. He serves on the Board of Directors for Idaho Diabetes Youth Programs as well as being very active in other medical organizations in Idaho. He is on the Board of Trustees for the Idaho Medical Association, recently was Chief of Staff at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, ID., was appointed by Idaho's governor to and subsequently served as the chair of Idaho's Child Mortality Review Team, and volunteers with many community organizations.


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Bruce Buckingham, M.D., received his medical degree from the University of California at San Diego, and did his pediatric and endocrine fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. On become an attending at CHLA, he had the pleasure of working with Dr. Fran Kaufman as she started her endocrine fellowship. He subsequently moved to the Children's Hospital of Orange County where he remained for 18 years. While at Orange County he had the opportunity to work with an incredible parent organization, the PADRE foundation. For the last 6 years he as been working at the Stanford Medical Center. He has a long standing interest in glucose sensors, and while at Stanford has conducted a number of studies using the GlucoWatch and Minimed CGMS. He is currently the Principal Investigator at Stanford for the mulitcenter NIH trial (DirecNet) to assess the use of glucose sensors in Children.


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Bob Bulgarelli, M.D., is a cardiologist who specializes in Preventative and Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine. Bob has spent the last several years working with Dean Ornish, MD and Andy Weil, MD in developing a more holistic approach to cardiac care as well as running stress management workshops. He is the director of The Smart Heart Program for Main Line Health System. Smart Hearts is a comprehensive lifestyle program geared toward risk reduction for heart patients, including diet, exercise, stress management, group support and spirituality. His program is expanding to help patients with obesity and diabetes as well. Programs like his have been recently shown to be effective in delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. Bob has a particular interest in bringing his message of healthy lifestyle change to children and adolescents.


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Douglas Cairns was a jet pilot and flight instructor in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) when, in 1989, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. With his flight medical license revoked, Douglas left the RAF a year later and changed career to the finance industry. In 1999, Douglas discovered that it was possible to obtain an unrestricted private pilot's license in the USA assuming certain medical requirements were met. In 2000, he obtained that license. In 2002, "Diabetes World Flight" was born to show aviation authorities around the world that it is possible for such pilots to fly safely according to US FAA regulations. Douglas flew around the world in a light aircraft in 159 days, flying over 26,300 nautical miles and visiting 22 countries. He is a tremendous example that diabetes does not have to limit the scope of our dreams and ambitions.


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Will Cross is a 37-year-old expedition leader and world-class athlete. Raised in England until age 12, Cross has worked continually for more than 24 years to overcome obstacles that accompany diabetes. At 18, he received HRH Prince Charles' special permission to participate in Operation Raleigh, an international program that organizes young people from 17 to 23 to do service projects around the world. Cross presently endeavors to achieve what is known as the NovoLog® Peaks and Poles Challenge - reaching the highest peak on each continent and visiting the North and South Poles. He is on target to become the first American and first person with diabetes to do so, with a projected completion date of summer 2005. Cross wants to show the tens of millions of people with diabetes that they don't have to be defined by their disease. He wants to prove that there are no diabetics -- only people who happen to have diabetes -- and that those with the condition can manage it successfully.


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Alessandra De Palma, M.D., works in Milan (Italy) at "L. Sacco" Hospital, specializing in Paediatrics, with a specific attention to endocrinology. In particular she takes care of children with diabetes and their families working at the Diabetic Ambulatory and Diabetic Day-Hospital directed by A. Scaramuzza, M.D.. Alessandra is involved with AAGD (Associazione per l'Aiuto ai Giovani Diabetici), and she always takes part to many summer camp organised by the association AAGD as an active member of the project "Insulin, Love and Care. "


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David M. Harlan, M.D., is the Chief, Islet and Autoimmunity Branch of the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health of the Department of Health and Human Services. He is also a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, and a Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Harlan has explored the immunopathological mechanisms underlying type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) for over 15 years, with studies spanning a range from test tube experiments, to animal model research, and to clinical trials. His focus in all that work has been the same however; to find ways to prevent T1DM for those at risk, and to ameliorate - or better - cure it for those already diagnosed. Dr. Harlan is the recipient of several honors and awards, is a sought after speaker, and has published more than 90 scientific manuscripts and chapters.


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Crystal Jackson is a CWD mom and manager the American Diabetes Association's government relations and advocacy division. She is one of the ADA's most valuable resources on anti-discrimination laws and protecting the rights of persons with diabetes. As a parent of a child with diabetes, Crystal was instrumental in the development and implementation of law and policy in Virginia that resulted in improved standards of school diabetes care. Crystal has contributed to many diabetes publications including the National Diabetes Education Program's Helping the Student with Diabetes to Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel and is a member of the Virginia Diabetes Council.


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Pittsburgh resident Nicole Johnson Baker was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years before she was crowned Miss America 1999, but became one of our nation's most visible and effective diabetes prevention advocates. Today, Baker travels around the world to educate people about diabetes and pre-diabetes and is currently pursuing her second master's degree in public health. She also spends several days a month lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on behalf of diabetes patient groups and biotech companies. Baker has received numerous awards nationally and internationally for her work in diabetes education. She has also written several books including her own autobiography, Living With Diabetes (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2001). She has co-authored both Mr. Food: Every Day's a Holiday Diabetic Cookbook with Nicole Johnson (American Diabetes Association, 2002), and Mr. Food's Quick and Easy Diabetic Cooking with Nicole Johnson (American Diabetes Association, 2001).


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Francine Kaufman, M.D., Head, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California Medical School. Dr. Kaufman is Past President of the National American Diabetes Association and has authored over 100 articles on diabetes and abnormalities of sugar metabolism in children and youth. She has been an NIH-funded investigator since 1980, and has investigated many aspects of diabetes, including diabetes prevention. Dr. Kaufman has a trademark on the Insulin Dosage Slide Scale and recently authored and evaluated a CD-ROM teaching/game module for young children with diabetes.


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Kim Kelly, Pharm. D., is the Director of Diabetes Programs at LifeScan, Inc., in Milpitas, California. Dr. Kelly has a lengthy and distinguished career involving both patient care and administrative roles, including President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. His research and experience have included a number of publications, participation on editorial boards and review panels of several journals, involvement in medical curriculum development, and various committees of professional organizations. Currently, his activities center around developing diabetes health management and educational programs for various health care providers and provider organizations. Delighted to work with children and teens alike, Dr. Kelly has participated as a volunteer in the Orlando and Universal City Friends for Life conferences as well as the Focus on Fitness and Nutrition conference in Baltimore and the Focus on Pumping conference in Washington, D.C. He joined CWD as 'regular faculty' for the San Antonio Focus on Fitness and Nutrition conference, and extends his tenure as faculty to this summer's conference, focusing on the Tweener and Elementary age programming.


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Rick Philbin, M.Ed., A.T.C., C.S.C.S., is a regional manager for Animas Corporation, an athletic trainer, and an individual with type 1 diabetes. Prior to joining Animas, he managed a comprehensive sports medicine center in Silver Spring, Maryland. Rick is a presenter for Fitness in Today's Times On-site Corporate Wellness Program and is very active in diabetes as it relates to exercise. He has spearheaded an effort to bring a chapter of the Diabetes, Exercise, and Sports Association (DESA) to the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area and lectures frequently on exercise through DESA. He is currently the chapter president and a national board member. Rick's professional experience also includes working as an Athletic Trainer for a Philadelphia-based sports medicine center, where he worked with professional athletes from the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers. He believes education is paramount for good diabetes management. As an avid exercise enthusiast with type 1 diabetes, Rick practices tight management of his diabetes while on an insulin pump.


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Michelle Rago is an attorney and CWD mom. She graduated from Harvard University in 1986, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in Sociology. There she received the First Annual Ben Teel Memorial Prize for Public Service. She graduated from Columbia University School of Law in 1990, receiving a Charles Evans Hughes Fellowship. Michelle has practiced complex commercial litigation since graduation, specializing in securities and other class actions on behalf of investors. In 2000, Michelle's son Trent was diagnosed with diabetes at age 4. Due to the diagnosis, Trent's daycare would not accept him back. Since then, Michelle has worked hard to keep abreast of the changing laws with relation to diabetes and school, insurance coverage, and discrimination on account of diabetes. She is a member of the parents list on the CWD website and often assists parents with legal issues that arise in connection with diabetes.


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Dr. Suresh Rao is a Clinical Biochemist who began his career as a hospital biochemist researching in blood fats and diabetes at St. Thomas' Hospital, a leading teaching hospital in London, England. After a period teaching pathology he moved to industry where he has had a variety of positions in sales, marketing and clinical affairs in Europe and the USA. He is currently the Medical Marketing Manager for Abbott Diabetes Care, in which role he is responsible for clinical trials of the Freestyle and Precision products, CE programs and medical liaison activities. Suresh travels extensively and is an Abbott Clinical Speaker specializing in presentations on Sick Day Management and Accuracy in everyday monitoring.


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Camillo Ricordi, M.D. is the Scientific Director and Chief Academic Officer of the Diabetes Research Institute. He is also the Stacy Joy Goodman Professor of Surgery and Medicine, Chief of the Division of Cellular Transplantation, and Senior Associate Dean for Research at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Dr. Ricordi is a pioneer in the field of islet isolation techniques, having invented the machine that makes it possible to isolate large numbers of islet cells from the human pancreas. The procedure is now used by most laboratories performing clinical islet transplants. Acknowledged by his peers as one of the world's leading scientists in islet transplantation, Dr. Ricordi has trained the majority of islet cell transplant researchers worldwide and has developed highly innovative strategies in an attempt to transplant islets without the continuous requirement for immunosuppressive drugs. A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Dr. Ricordi is an active and often founding member of many important organizations in the world of diabetes research and transplantation, and has authored more than 400 scientific publications.


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Melissa Ringley, R.N., C.D.E., Manager of Clinical Services at Animas Corporation, is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Nursing-Wise Virginia, and has been involved in diabetes education for over 12 years. When her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes 12 years ago, Melissa dedicated herself to learning about diabetes and giving back that learning to patients and the medical community alike. Melissa has presented to numerous groups of patients with diabetes as well as health care practitioners, and has worked with hundreds of insulin pump patients with all types of diabetes and from all walks of life. Melissa is known for her caring attitude and genuine concern for all her patients, and for her active involvement in the diabetes community. She will be taking the lead role with the Tweener track at this Friends for Life conference.


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Richard Rubin, Ph.D., C.D.E., Psychologist, and Associate Professor in Medicine and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Author of Psyching Out Diabetes and Sweet Kids, Optimal Pumping, and 101 Tips for Coping with Diabetes. Dr. Rubin is Stefan Rubin's father. Stefan is also on the conference faculty and is a coauthor of Optimal Pumping and 101 Tips for Coping with Diabetes. Dr. Rubin is a sought after speaker for both professionals and people living with diabetes. He speaks with authority and warmth on the human side of diabetes.


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Stefan Rubin was diagnosed type 1 in 1979, at the age of seven and began insulin pump therapy three years later. He considers his experience an invaluable exercise and education that continue to prepare him for any hurdles that diabetes-and-life place in his path. Long a source of inspiration for his father, Dr. Richard R. Rubin, Stefan is co-author of two books, including 101 Tips for Coping with Diabetes, published in 2003 by the American Diabetes Association. Stefan also speaks locally and nationally in an ongoing attempt to share his outlook on living well with diabetes. Stefan and his wife Christine, live, work and play with their son Brooks and daughter Maisie in Baltimore, Maryland.


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Gary Scheiner, having had type 1 diabetes since 1985 and working as a Certified Diabetes Educator since 1993, knows the latest and best techniques for achieving optimal diabetes control. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Gary has authored a book and dozens of articles, and speaks at local and national meetings on diabetes, fitness and motivation. Gary received the 1997 William Martin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Patient Activities by the American Diabetes Association, as well as the 1998 Allene Van Son Award for the development of effective diabetes teaching tools by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. In 2002, he was granted the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Education Research award for the study of basal insulin levels in pump users. Gary owns and operates Integrated Diabetes Services, a private practice located just outside of Philadelphia, specializing in intensive blood glucose control and lifestyle intervention for people with diabetes.


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Gayle Schurig works in Orlando as a behavior analyst, specializing in children with developmental delays, and has worked with children and families for many years. Gayle became involved with CWD after assisting her husband, Mike, with conferences. Mike is a diabetes educator and dietician, but also has type 1 diabetes. Gayle and Mike's daughter, Allyson, has also become involved by joining IDYA and loved making "friends for life."


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Mike Schurig M.S., R.D., L.D., C.D.E., is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who has had type 1 diabetes since age 12. Mike works as a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Nemours Orlando Children's Clinic, as well as serving as CWD's dietitian. Mike has had experience in diabetes education with kids and adults, and has been involved in CWD conferences since the first formal conference in 2001. Mike is active with local ADA activities, regional diabetes educator groups, and the CWD website. His interests are insulin pump education and technical advances in diabetes. Mike enjoys visiting the nearby theme parks and enjoying Central Florida with his wife Gayle and his daughter Allyson.


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Marco Songini, M.D., is Director, Diabetes Centre, Ospedale S. Michele in Cagliari, Italy. He is in charge of the Unit of Adolescent Diabetology. He is a specialist in diabetes care, endocrinology and nutrition, and has been in practice for twenty years. Marco is a nationally-known expert in diabetes education and cooperates in a number of international research projects in the field of IDDM, including Sardinian Area Leader for the EEC - EURODIAB Project (A: Epidemiology; B: Complications), EURODIAB TIGER ( EUROpe and DIABetes: Type 1 Genetic Epidemiology Resource), IDA Insulin-dependent Diabetes mellitus in young Adults in Europe, ENI (European Newborn IDDM Study), and "HOT & COLD SPOTS" Project for the prevention of IDDM in Sardinia. He lives with his wife Ilaria, a psychotherapist, and his two children, Aurelio and Emma, in the beautiful island of Sardinia.


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John Walsh, P.A., C.D.E., is a Physician Assistant and Diabetes Clinical Specialist who has provided clinical care to thousands of people with diabetes. John is well-known for his best-selling books on type 1 diabetes, Pumping Insulin: Everything You Need For Success With An Insulin Pump (3rd Edition) and Stop The Rollercoaster. An insulin pump wearer for 18 years, John has started and followed many hundreds of people on pumps. He is a popular presenter on a wide variety of diabetes topics and has been a frequent guest on radio and TV programs. His interests include identifying and providing clinical care for patients at risk of developing diabetes complications, stabilizing and reversing those complications, and enhancing blood sugar control through innovative methods.


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Holly Whelan, MPA is Manager of Health Insurance Advocacy for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in Alexandria, Virginia. She is an alumnus of Michigan State University with a B.A. in Social Relations and of The George Washington University where she received a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Holly has worked for ADA for four years - both as a Program Manager in Detroit, Michigan and at her current position in the Washington DC area. Holly's work focuses on providing information to people with diabetes on how to obtain and/or keep health insurance coverage. She gathers and analyzes data on these types of problems to be used to advocate for public policy change. Holly is co-author of a forthcoming report titled Falling Through the Cracks: Stories of How Health Insurance Can Fail People with Diabetes, which details these concerns and offers possible solutions.


The Teen Faculty

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Carolyn and Sam are a brother-sister duo with a single purpose: to beat diabetes. Sam, diagnosed nearly six years ago at age 8, is determined that diabetes will never get in the way of his life dreams. Carolyn, age 16, does not have diabetes; she presents type 1 diabetes as a family disease. It affects everyone. For the past three years, Sam and Carolyn have been speaking out on the importance of teen advocacy and taking control of your life. They are founding members of CWD's International Diabetes Youth Ambassador program (IDYA) and traveled to Denmark in 2002 to meet with Danish teens as part of a diabetes advocacy exchange. Carolyn founded and serves as Director of the Supplies for Children with Diabetes Foundation. Both Carolyn and Sam also work privately to send donated supplies to children in Cali, Colombia. Sam spends any and all spare time at the hockey rink!


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Marissa and Kathryn are active teen advocates for diabetes support and education. Marissa, now 17, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 24 months old. Through Children with Diabetes, she has traveled to Denmark, Italy, Mexico, and throughout the United States. Marissa also helps raise money to pay for diabetes supplies for needy families in the US and South America. Kathryn, Marissa's 14-year-old sister, does not have diabetes but remains an active member of CWD's International Diabetes Youth Ambassador program (IDYA) program. She helps out at many CWD conferences and is a member of the siblings group, helping other kids who have brothers and sisters with diabetes.


The Parent Discussion Facilitators

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Neal Billetdeaux, from Michigan, is learning to be a diabetes advocate from kids Carolyn and Sam. His most frequent complaint to wife, Laura, is that he doesn't have enough vacation time to make it to all the CWD conferences! When not downloading meter data, changing infusion sets, or cooking dinner, Neal is a principal in a landscape architecture firm in Ann Arbor. His CWD 'claim to fame' is that - in a sleep-deprived stupor one night - he awoke to his alarm at 2 a.m. and tried to test the dog. He's a great dad with a great sense of humor!


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Tom Karlya is the Vice President of dLife, the inspiring and educational show about diabetes on CNBC. He was the National Director of Special Projects/Northeast Development Director the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and has been active in fund raising for diabetes causes since his daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed in 1992. He has been featured in newspapers such as Newsday and had has been published in magazines as Parents Guide Weekly. He is an actor/writer by trade. For 12 years, he starred in the New York City Production of Tony 'N Tina's Wedding, working with the original NY Company and also at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., in Summer of the 17th Doll. His new film, lbs., was seen at the Sundance Film Festival last year and will be released in the summer of 2005. Tom has also appeared in Unsolved Mysteries, Spin City, The Cosby Show, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, America's Most Wanted, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and others. He has written and/or produced public service announcements featuring celebrities such as Ray Romano, Sugar Ray Leonard, the cast of Tony 'n Tina's Wedding and the wives of the New York Jets for many diabetes causes. He is a featured guest on WLIE 540 AM Talk Radio on Long Island and lives on Long Island with his wife, Jill and children TJ, Kaitlyn, and Bobby.


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Lauren Lanning is a self-proclaimed Jersey Girl transplanted to Colorado. She has been involved in the CWD diabetes conferences since the very first gathering in Orlando in 2000, where she volunteered to make name badges. Little did she know. Making name badges evolved within an hour into leading a huge group of CWD volunteers who assist with every aspect of helping all the CWD conferences run smoothly. Lauren has two adorable daughters, Monica and Sarah, who are the inspiration in her life. A computer geek at heart, Lauren teaches computer skills at the elementary level and also has her own web design business. For fun, she is a crossing guard. For more fun, the last three years she has ridden century rides in Death Valley to raise money for diabetes research.


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Andrew Niemyer and his family attended their first Friends for Life in 2001, less than a year after their youngest son was diagnosed as a Type I diabetic. A veteran United States Naval Flight Officer, Andy found himself applying his military service and flight experience to dealing with his son's condition and thinking about how it could be an avenue for all CWD Dads to consider how they approach being a part of their children's care and treatment. While he considers "spouse and dad" to his wife and two sons to be his "real" job, he also flies for Angel Flight Central and is active in their Minnesota community.

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Last Updated: Wednesday June 11, 2008 07:51:40
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