“Welcome home.”

You know when you’re scrolling through Facebook and a post jumps out at you from your feed?  And then you read it, and you read it again, and you read the comments, and you realize in an instant that our CWD family really is a family?  Today, we’re sharing one of those posts, from CWD Mom and all-around-awesome human, Leigh Fickling.

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I’ve cried four times today and it’s only 2:00. One time, I cried so hard that I had to run out of a meeting room and to the bathroom.

It’s the eve of Ava’s diaversary.

Seven years ago tomorrow, we heard the words that changed our lives forever. She has diabetes. She’s very sick. Go to the hospital now. Don’t go home. Don’t pack clothes. Go to the hospital now. Her blood sugar is over 900.

Our pediatrician and our endocrinologist saved Ava’s life that day.

Children with Diabetes saved my life that night.

How do you move forward when you’re watching your child almost die right before your eyes? How would anything ever be the same?

CWD told me how. That night, seven years ago, it told me how to move forward. It told me to breathe. It taught me about being newly diagnosed and what I needed to do next. It showed me forums of people from all around the world. People like me. People learning to manage diabetes. The club that I never thought that I join. The club that we will likely never leave.

Seven years later, I’ve come full circle. Seven years later, I’ve been in the room with the very people who saved me all those years ago. The people behind the green and orange bands. The people who make the carb count cards. The people who buy the stickers for the name tags. The people who project the slideshows at lunch. The people who run the auction. The ones who push the sleeping babies in strollers in the hallway. The ones with the construction paper shapes in elementary. The role model leaders of Ava and Davis in the tween program. The teen leaders who encourage independence and keep a watchful eye on park Friday. The young adult leaders who love fanny packs and giant Jenga. The support staff who keep a watchful eye. The people who carefully manage the controlled chaos of the exhibit hall. The wise board members. The sponsors. The founders and their families.

We’ve spent the weekend working on the future of FFL. We’ve planned. We’ve brainstormed. We’ve eaten. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve hugged. We’ve recharged. We’ve revisited our mission and our strategic plan. We have a clear vision of what’s next.

These people saved me and they didn’t even know me. Today, they are my family and I can’t imagine celebrating a diaversary with anyone else.

Thank you, Jeff and Laura. There will never be enough thank you’s.

When you come to Disney, they always say, “Welcome home.”

I think that’s partially true.

For me, when I see this desk and see those orange and green bands … this is the true “welcome home.”

I can’t wait to see you in July.

???????? forever.

Published: January 23, 2020

Leigh Fickling, MEd, MS, JD, serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Children with Diabetes. Leigh is responsible for the day-to-day operational leadership of the organization and for the oversight and implementation of the organization’s strategic plan. Leigh’s daughter, Ava, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013 at the age of three. Leigh is a subject matter expert in the implementation of accommodations for people with diabetes in the classroom, workplace, and beyond. The Friends for Life conferences are the highlight of the year for the Fickling family and they can’t imagine trying to dia-beat-this without their circle of friends.