Report from Wednesday
As in past years, Wednesday was a packed day from start to finish, and every inch of space in the Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort convention center was in use! Registration opened at 9 a.m., closed at 9 p.m., and had a queue of excited attendees all day long.
Wednesday was a day of focus groups, screenings, discussion groups, and presentations. It was great to have long-timer sponsors running focus groups all day, continuing to keep their finger on the pulse of how FFL families are thinking and what questions they might have as they look to the future. There were also some brand new companies just joining us for the first time, and they were thrilled with the discussion and quality of insights and questions. Many participants joined CWD facilitators for conversation about CWD’s future, relating to Friends for Life conferences and company sustainability. We appreciate your ideas and feedback!
It was also a day of FFL ‘meet-ups’ and some wonderful artistic sessions such as Docu-Diabetes IV and Dancing for Diabetes, which this year included an additional afternoon dance session for adults! The teen program got underway on Wednesday, as did the Grandparents program. This year in response to your feedback, we featured youth programming for ages 6-12 all day Wednesday. Children’s activities included Sports Central, Forts and Legos, Dress-Up and Crafts, and Movie Time. Additionally, we offered childcare for our youngest attendees ages 0-5 on a drop-in basis. The youth program staff had a wonderful time with the kids, and the kids were kept busy while parents attended focus groups. A win-win.
The First Timers Orientation on Wednesday afternoon included 600 first timers as well as the ‘old timers’ who volunteered as Buddies this past year. Retired Pro Football Star Kendall Simmons welcomed the first timers, and in a very personal way, he shared his own journey with type 1. Kids and parents later had the opportunity to meet Kendall for a hug, a photo, and an autographed football! Gary Scheiner, CDE, one of our long-time wonderful faculty, then welcomed the First Timers on behalf of all of the faculty and staff. First Timers were also welcomed by Jeff Hitchcock, and they learned a bit of the history behind CWD and FFL. Thank you, Dexcom for sponsoring the First Timers gathering and for bringing Kendall Simmons to spend time with everyone!
At 6:00 p.m. sharp, the Exhibit Hall was ready for the Grand Opening! This year, we had three generations of individuals with type 1 cut the red ribbon at the entrance to the exhibit hall: 11 year old Logan, CWD Fellow Dr. Gio Beauchamp, and Grandparent Faculty Judith Jones-Ambrosini. And with that, the Exhibit Hall was officially open! Following the wild rush of a couple thousand excited people anxious to get into the hall, it settled down to a steady, well-behaved and energetic large crowd all evening and throughout the next couple of days. The sponsors and exhibitors were absolutely wonderful, offering activities, goodies, and information for everyone at every age.
Wednesday evening closed with a very special treat – a concert by Nashville stars Amanda Jo and Billy Lee. First and foremost, they are CWD’s friends for life, and their connection to the audience – especially to the children – was amazing. Thank you, Tandem Diabetes Care, for sponsoring this most special evening.