Report from Friends for Life Orlando 2019
It was a special year from the start - celebratory, emotional, and in-every-way-amazing.
The 20th Anniversary of Friends for Life.
July 13, 2019 – Saturday afternoon, pre-FFL. Staff and team leaders began to arrive to set up for the conference.
July 14, 2019 – Sunday morning – Dr. Ben and Jim Stroud and the Retinal Team began to set up their equipment and prepare for the week-long retinal screening appointments. Throughout the day, many of the volunteers arrived, eager to jump to work early Monday morning.
July 15, 2019 – Monday morning, 7:30, staff breakfast at El Mercado. Rich and Carolyn Meredith coordinated move-in efforts with Rich driving the U-Haul and the team loading/unloading from the storage unit. At the convention center, Carolyn directed the hundreds of boxes to the correct locations so we could find them during the week. The Retinal Screening Team began their formal schedule, offering screenings to CWD staff with type 1. Ashley Head and his team began set-up work with Freeman in preparation for the exhibitors.
1 pm, Pre-Con time. Twenty-five Disney department heads and 10 Friends for Life leaders introduced themselves and spent a couple of hours reviewing the day-by-day plans. Room set-ups. Food and beverage details (with carb counts and portion sizes!). IT and AV needs. Nearly 300 pages of BEOs, drafted, edited, and re-edited by Disney Michele and Laura Billetdeaux to include everything that transpired during the entire week. “If it’s not in the BEO, it doesn’t happen.”
With Julia Mattingly leading the Registration team once again, Jimmy Dodson and Zach Geren leading the Sports Central Team, and Chris Tull and Jimmy Fickling leading the FFL Support team, we were starting to feel ready for the 2,000 people joining us from all over the world.
July 16, 2019 – Tuesday morning. Registration opened (9am-4pm)! Attendees began to check in and receive their green and orange wristbands, their name badges, and conference shirts. Everyone with a CGM received a special 20th Anniversary FFL PumpPeelz patch. By the end of the day Tuesday, almost 700 people had checked in for the conference. Dr. Ben and the Retinal Screening staff provided a full day of screenings, Sponsors and Exhibitors checked in and began setting up their booths, and TrialNet began their screenings. Sports Central opened and provided a great way to meet new friends and meet up with old friends. The entire Board of Directors met in the new Executive Board Room of the Tower. All board members were present and ready for the 2019 conference!
At 4pm, Arthur Ainsberg presented to the FFL Staff and Faculty a preview of his talk, “Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle.” He authored a fascinating book by the same title, and his presentation made us all recognize how grateful we are for the discovery of insulin and how far we’ve come in the past 100 years.
While we did not offer sessions on Tuesday, some of our Social Meet Ups couldn’t wait for the conference to start! Tuesday morning found the MOFFLs (Mothers of Friends for Life) walking the mile around the lake, followed by “MOFFLs and Waffles.” Later that afternoon, moms enjoyed “Moms and Margaritas.” Not to be outdone, the dads met for “Scrambled Dads and Eggs” breakfast, and "Dads and Suds” happy hour later in the day.
Exhibitors and Sponsors began collecting their registration packets and setting up in the Exhibit Hall. Our Youth Staff met to finalize plans for their age groups. Also, our expanded First Timers Team set up near registration to answer questions and meet and greet arriving attendees.
Welcome to Friends for Life 2019. Where magic happens. Twenty years of magic.
Our most sincere thanks to the sponsors who supported this conference and who each year allow us to make FFL bigger and better:
Platinum Sponsors: Lilly Diabetes and Novo Nordisk
Gold Sponsors: Dexcom, Inc. and Insulet Corporation (Omnipod Dash)
Silver Sponsors: Tandem Diabetes Care,
Abbott Diabetes Care (Freestyle), Medtronic, Sanofi, and Xeris
Friends of CWD: ADA, Beta Bionics, Beyond Type 1, the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation, Lifescan, MannKind Corporation, Senseonics (Eversense), and the T1D Exchange.
On behalf of the thousands of people you touched at Friends for Life Orlando 2019, we are so grateful for your friendship and support.
Read more about Friends for Life Orlando 2019 using the links below.