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  Back to 2005 Conference Report Friends for Life 2005 - Thursday

Friends for Life: Orlando 2005 - Thursday

It was a beautiful, sunny - not too muggy - morning for the kick-off event on Thursday, the CWD Foundation Fun Run sponsored by Novo Nordisk! At 7:30 sharp, Jonathan Smedley blew the whistle to start the race, and several hundred runners and walkers headed around the Disney lake, a half-mile course. Quite a few kids raised funds for the CWD Foundation, and three-year-old Dax from Michigan turned in a whopping $1,000 in contributions! Dax and his mom and dad came on stage during breakfast to present the money raised to the CWD Foundation and to receive a medal and award from Novo Nordisk's Stephanie Geraci. Stephanie then proceeded to distribute medals and awards to all the kids who completed the Fun Run that morning. Everyone was a winner!

Extreme adventurer Will Cross opened the conference with his keynote presentation, Conquering Mountains, Reaching Poles, and Managing Diabetes. Will's accomplishments are extraordinary, and everyone who heard him speak - young and old alike - felt a renewed sense of "I can do it." Remarkably, while Will spends a lot of time on his extreme adventure training, he also is just a regular guy - a schoolteacher and a dad of six, who also happens to have type 1 diabetes and to manage it well. After the keynote presentation, Will spent some time with the elementary and tweener age groups. They had some great questions for him.

Thursday's other educational sessions included a presentation on Current Best Practices by ADA Past-President Francine Kaufman, and a Diabetes Research Institute Update by Dr. Camillo Ricordi. Cardiologist Bob Bulgarelli led several sessions during the conference, including Heart Health and Diabetes and three sessions on Stress Management (back by request from last year!). John Walsh presented his very popular Pumping Basics, followed on Friday by Advanced Pumping Concepts. There were many new pumpers at the conference - and also quite a few families on injections who were very interested in learning more about pumping. Many thanks to our sponsoring pump companies (Animas Corporation, Medtronic MiniMed, and Smiths Medical) who provided saline pump starts to families wanting to learn more about the pumping experience!

Psychologist and ADA President-Elect Richard Rubin once again led a session called Overcoming Diabetes Overwhelmus (even looking at the title makes you feel better). Feedback from conference participants indicates that this is easily the most popular session with recently-diagnosed families. Dr. Rubin has presented this session at every CWD summer conference, and every time it is different and pertinent. He is a most special friend to our families. Also, Dr. Rubin is a CWD dad himself and attended the conference with son Stefan (a dad himself), who also served on the faculty with the young adult group and dad's discussion group.

At lunch, conference participants enjoyed a yummy buffet sponsored by Smiths Medical. Young pumpers gave brief presentations during lunch about their experiences with pumping, and this in turn provided encouragement to young conference attendees considering pumping. Snacks throughout the day were sponsored by Medtronic MiniMed. It is important to keep everyone well-fueled for all of the activities and fun throughout the day!

Later in the afternoon on Thursday, Dr. Bruce Buckingham presented a session called Optimum MDI, while ADA's Crystal Jackson (who is also a CWD mom) started the informational track on managing diabetes in schools. Crystal had a huge role in this year's conference, including Thursday's Diabetes Management in School, Friday's 504 Double Workshop, and an advocacy session with the teens on Friday morning. She deserves many thanks for assisting parents both at conferences and when they return home in negotiating the maze of formal and 'informal' rules and regulations surrounding diabetes care at school.

CDE Gary Scheiner led a session entitled Strike the Spike, which addressed how to manage post-prandial highs, while Athletic Trainer Rick Philbin talked with parents about Exercise and Busy Kids - Preventing and Managing Hypos. Both sessions received great reviews from parents; these are two areas that are always of concern with CWD parents.

Pharmacist Kim Kelly got down to basics with his session, Glucose: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This session is so very important for parents to hear and understand. While glucose is necessary for our bodies (whether or not we have type 1 diabetes), glucose can also be dangerous for our bodies. Dr. Kelly's succinct and easy-to-understand explanations were, as always, much appreciated by parents.

D-Team endocrinologist Marco Songini discussed with parents the Transfer from Pediatric to Adult Diabetes Care. This is a challenge and a milestone for all CWD parents with teens, and Dr. Songini addressed the issues head on.

ADA's Holly Whelan finished off the day's sessions by discussing Health Insurance Issues and Diabetes. This is a huge concern for parents who face varying coverage - or sometimes no coverage - for diabetes supplies and care.

Also on Thursday and Friday, CWD was pleased to offer some new discussion groups -- a new and improved Grandparents Group (led by Betty Brackenridge and Richard Rubin), Young Women's Discussion Group (led by Fran Kaufman), and Young Adults Discussion Group (led by Stefan Rubin and Meghan Neumann).

Our Italian guests were very lucky to have a wonderful day of presentations scheduled for them - in Italian! Dr. Camillo Ricordi opened the morning's sessions with the DRI Update, followed by presentations by Dr. Songini and Dr. De Palma.

Kids (ages 6-9), Tweeners (ages 10-12), and Teens (ages 13+) had sessions just for them, offering opportunities for learning and sports while parents attended their own sessions. Our intention for the kids this year was to keep them busy and moving. We accomplished this by offering various sports (basketball, volleyball, martial arts, kids'games) in Sports Central, by taking the kids to the pool for an afternoon of swimming, and by having them participate in a Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibit Hall. Within the context of these activities, the kids' staff embedded learning objectives pertaining to diabetes management. We also offered evening activities both Thursday and Friday nights to keep everyone moving and exercising! Many, many thanks to the staff who organized and led these activities:

  • Elementary group: Lauren Lanning, Mike Schurig, Gayle Schurig, Michelle Rago, Meghan Neumann, Joe Solowcziuk
  • Tweener group: Melissa Ringley, Kim Kelly
  • Teen group: Natalie Bellini, Jim Vail
  • Diabetes, Exercise, and Sports Association (DESA) staff: Rick Philbin, Joe Largay, Judith Ambrosini
  • ... and thank you to the dozens of volunteers who helped staff these activities!

Thursday evening, about 1,200 people came together in the Coronado Ballroom for the 6th annual Family and Friends Banquet, sponsored by LifeScan and Novo Nordisk. Triathlete Jay Hewitt was the evening's keynote speaker, and his message to parents and kids was clear. Keep your vision for what you want to accomplish, and never give up. After his presentation, Jay stayed in the ballroom for literally hours signing autographs and having photos taken with the kids. He was inspirational.

And, on the topic of inspirational, July 2005 marked the ten year anniversary of the CWD website. In honor of this, and in honor of the reason for the website existing, Jeff Hitchcock presented a tribute to his 17 year old daughter, Marissa. Set to the music Butterfly Kisses, Jeff's photo presentation of the his daughter's life - from birth to diagnosis at age 2 to high school graduation in June - left not a dry eye in the audience.

In honor of Jeff's tremendous contribution to families with diabetes, LifeScan's Charles Renfroe announced the creation of the CWD Distinguished Service Award, which will be known from this time forward as the Hitchcock Award. This will be an annual award of $5,000 presented at the Friends for Life conference to a CWD parent who has contributed greatly to the CWD community. In honor of Jeff's commitment to the CWD community, Charles Renfroe and Laura Billetdeaux presented him with the first Award.

A Tribute to Moms and Dads ... and Growing Up was the theme of the following slide presentation. Laura Billetdeaux shared her thoughts about watching her kids - and all the other CWD teens - growing up over the last six years. The final song in the presentation was a tribute to Laura's daughter, Carolyn, and Jeff's daughter, Marissa, who both graduated high school this year and are college-bound, and who coined the phrase Friends for Life. Dr. Richard Rubin and Teen Coordinator Natalie Bellini honored both teens with friendship plaques from CWD and some very moving words.

Then - tears and thank you's done - it was Laura's turn to thank the sponsors. This is always the fun part - and the sponsors never know ahead of time what is in store for them! Charles Renfroe from LifeScan accepted the Natalie Bellini Teens Choice Award for his sponsorship of the Italian teen cultural exchange program this summer. Animas' Audrey Finkelstein received the IDYA Sponsorship Award for her ongoing support of the IDYA activities, both in and out of conference programs. Laura then called each conference sponsor on stage, and presented them with a beautiful plaque edged by photos of CWD kids. Barbara Singer from the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation took the opportunity to present a beautiful award to IDYA Richie Podjasek for his initial idea and ongoing work on the bracelet program, which to date has raised over $50,000 for diabetes research and support. Jeff and Laura also accepted the Query Award from Barbara Singer on behalf of CWD's ongoing support of DRIF initiatives.

Next, on to the fun. As the corporate sponsors were called on stage and presented with their plaques, they were asked to form a line. Then to walk down the stairs and onto the dance floor. Then to take their shoes off. And then, to show the world (well, the CWD kiddo world), their dance stuff! As a wonderful Disney DJ led the sponsors in the Cha Cha Slide moves, literally hundreds of CWD kids joined them on the dance floor in what became a very wild - and long - night of dancing!

Mickey and Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters joined the younger kids throughout the evening at the Oldies Dance, while the teens enjoyed their own DJ and dance in the Fiesta Ballroom sponsored by Unomedical, and the Tweeners enjoyed Sports Night in Sports Central. It was such a fun night, and at midnight, everyone was exhausted!

Time for a few hours sleep, and on to Friday!

 
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Three-year-old Dax raised $1,000 in Fun Run pledges to support the CWD Foundation
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Jonathan Smedley gets everyone ready, and ...
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... they're off, led by Rick Philbin, ...
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... for once around the lake
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Richie Podjasek takes the checkered flags being waved by Jonathan Smedley (left) and Stephanie Geraci (right)
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Sam looked pooped as he finished the run
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All kids who joined in the Fun Run ...
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... received a ribbon and award
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Maggie gets a pre-breakfast bolus ...
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... before listening to Opening Session Keynote Speaker Will Cross
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Dr. Camillo Ricordi spoke to the Italians about diabetes research
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Andrea guessing at the Unomedical booth
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Jonathan Smedley at Novo Nordisk's fabulous booth is greeted by a teeming horde of kids on their Scavenger Hunt
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John Meiser at LifeScan's booth was swamped!
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Everyone who finished the Scavenger Hunt won a prize
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CWD volunteers took the kids to the Big Dig pool
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Ironman Triathlete Jay Hewitt inspired at the banquet ...
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... and signed autographs and posed for photos
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Laura Billetdeaux and LifeScan's Charles Renfroe present the first CWD Distinguished Service Award to a very surprised CWD Founder Jeff Hitchcock
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Laura, Barbara Singer, Richie, and Natalie after Barbara presented an award to Richie
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Carolyn Billetdeaux (l) and Marissa Hitchcock (r) with their awards
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Charles Renfroe received the Natalie Bellini Teens Choice Award for LifeScan's sponsorship of the Italian exchange program
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No CWD conference would be complete without thanking our generous sponsors ...
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... and then helping them have some fun.
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After the banquet, a great DJ played dance songs, bringing parents ...
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... and kids alike to the dance floor
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The Italian parents and adults joined in the fun
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One family posed in front of the large FFL screen
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The Italian teens joined in the annual Teen Dance, sponsored by Unomedical
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Teens take a break to pose for a photo
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Last Updated: Tuesday October 05, 2010 10:44:42
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