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  Back to 2007 Conference Report Report from Friends for Life 2007

Friday began with a yummy, healthy breakfast, sponsored by LifeScan. The day was packed full of sessions and discussion groups for parents. Each hour, there was a choice of 6-7 different sessions on all different topics and all different levels. There truly was something for everyone, whether you were brand new to type 1 diabetes or had been managing diabetes for years. Some highlights included a few new CWD sessions: Double Diabetes in Kids, Going to College and Letting Go, Managing Teens and Insulin Resistance, and The Future of Treating Type 1 Diabetes.

Government and Diabetes was a new session this year. The Surgeon General, along with representatives from the FDA and NIH, collaborated on this session focused on helping parents understand the role that Government plays in diabetes care. This ranged from health care policy to leading and funding research to approving new treatments for people with type 1 diabetes.

Also of note on Friday were the research-oriented sessions. These included the NIH Research Update presented by Dr. David Harlan and the Diabetes Research Institute Update by Norma Sue Kenyon. At the end of the day, Drs. Aaron Kowalski, Edward Damiano, and Stuart Weinzimer collaborated on a session called Closing the Loop: The Artificial Pancreas, sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. It was a very hopeful way to close the educational portion of the conference. Many parents commented on their feedback that these scientific sessions were their favorites in that they presented 'the science' – not dummied down – but in a way that was both realistic and still hopeful for all of us.

Additional grandparents sessions were offered on Friday, again with Betty Brackenridge leading the way. Betty said the group had a "great deal of enthusiasm and so much to offer!" Grandparents got hands-on experience with blood glucose meters during one hour and with insulin pumps the last hour. Betty also asked the grandparents for feedback about what they'd like to expand for next year. There were some great ideas, including a pre-conference grandparents social on Wednesday, a Diabetes 101 session just covering the basics, a handout with basic terminology… and a special ribbon or wristband just for grandparents so they can identify each other!

Also closing out the educational program for Friday were Bob Bulgarelli, Scott Scolnick, Joe Solowiejczyk, and Paul Madden in a session called "Welcome to the Club." This turned out to be standing-room-only – and will be expanded upon as a main theme next year. These presenters have tremendous energy and empathy, and we look forward to seeing lots more of them next year!

The teens headed off to MGM for a day in the park, sponsored by Abbott Diabetes Care. While on the surface, this excursion may look like a Play Day, in reality there are pages and pages of learning objectives behind it. A lot of planning and responsibility goes into spending a day in a hot park with lots of activity and other things to keep track of, and the teen staff encouraged the teens to be as independent as possible in managing the day. Teens checked in periodically for a bg check and a 'once over' (for those without diabetes), and they were a great group to work with. Many thanks to the chaperones for the day: Neal Billetdeaux, Chris Tull, Jim Vail, Scott Nagel, Anna and Mark Troisi, Ben Loebner, Chuck Vallelonga, Nabil Elarbi, Katie Daugherty, Jeff Schmidt (aka Hydration Hero), and Ken Rodenheiser, and of course huge thanks (and a three-hour back rub) to Natalie Bellini, who coordinated the day.

The Tweener Group had a very fun Friday, beginning with exercise and games with DJ Miles. They continued the day with a Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibit Hall, and then time in Sports Central, where they met martial arts experts Marc Blatstein and Fran Ott. Marc and Fran have been to every single Friends for Life conference since 2001, sharing their love of martial arts with the kids (Marc has had type 1 diabetes – forever). The Tweeners finished their day at the pool, where they started with sunshine and ended with a crack of thunder and a huge downpour! Everyone ran for cover, and it was a mad dash back to the Convention Center, where the kids and staff arrived, totally drenched and looking more like ducks than kids!

Elementary kids meanwhile donned their pirate garb and headed off on the Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibit Hall! And the exhibitors were ready for them! Later that morning, the kids headed back to Sports Central to meet Marc Blatstein and Fran Ott, and to get a little exercise in the schedule before lunch! Following a scrumptious lunch sponsored by Lilly, the elementary kids spent an hour with DJ Miles (who won the hula hoop contest?) and then ended the day with an arts-n-crafts Friends for Life memories project. The elementary staff love arts-n-crafts, and Michelle and Lauren spend months scouring crafts stores for 'just the right stuff' for the projects!

Friday night, the teens held a very special Teen Dinner Dance – Italian Style, sponsored by Unomedical. It was a fancy affair in the Fiesta Ballroom, and the teens looked absolutely beautiful. One very moving moment – Louis, a teen from Australia just diagnosed several days before, was brought into the room and up to the stage on the shoulders of hundreds of his new CWD teen friends. It was one of those CWD moments that those in the room will forever remember. It's what CWD is all about.

Next door to the teens, the Tweener group had their own Friday evening social – this time with karaoke! DJ Miles made the evening fun and interactive, and the evening's sponsors – LifeScan – had some extra special glowy, sparkly, blinky treats for the tweeners! What a special evening. Many thanks to Kim Kelly and Melissa Ringley for arranging all the goodies, and to the many chaperones who kept the environment safe and fun.

Finally – Friday night was Open Gym night in Sports Central -- and the basketball courts were full!

Many thanks to today's sponsors – Abbott Diabetes Care, LifeScan, Eli Lilly and Company, Novo Nordisk and Unomedical – and to the volunteers and staff who made this extraordinary day happen.

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Nicole brought Ava to be screened for TrialNet
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Tweener Ashley checked over her scavenger hunt list
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Dr. Dave Harlan of the NIH/NIDDK spoke about research underway to cure type 1 diabetes
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Dr. Irl Hirsh spoke about The Future of Treating Type 1 Diabetes
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Elementary kids learned about diabetes tools and had fun on the Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibition Hall. Here, Marissa's group meets members of Team Type 1, which won the 2007 Race Across America.
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Tweeners were treated to some cool light up stuff at the Friday Tweener Social
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Some of the 250+ teens take a break during Friday's Teen Dance
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CWD's young adults had dinner with Will Cross to discuss future programming to meet their needs
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Last Updated: Sunday November 11, 2007 10:19:28
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