FFL Indy 2020 Virtual V4

Virtual Friends for Life Indianapolis 2020 Conference

Welcome, CWD family!  It's finally here, our Virtual Friends for Life Indianapolis 2020 Conference! Live sessions took place throughout the day on Sunday, March 29th using GoToWebinar, and we have our full conference schedule of pre-recorded sessions and discussion panels, plus the recordings from the live sessions, available now.

Recordings from live sessions are available underneath their title card.  Each link clicks through to the CWD YouTube channel.


Opening Keynote: Affordable Access to Insulin
George Huntley and Stewart Perry
10:00 – 11:00 am Eastern
Watch the video!

Making Sense of Sensor Data
Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Eastern
Watch the video!

Carb Counting … and Beyond
Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE
1:00 – 2:00 pm Eastern
Watch the video!

Closing Keynote: iLet Update – The Bionic Pancreas
Ed Damiano, PhD
3:00 – 4:00 pm Eastern
Watch the video!

A welcome message from Laura Billetdeaux



We cannot say THANK YOU enough to our extraordinary sponsors who made it so the first ever virtual Friends for Life conference could be offered FREE OF CHARGE. Their generosity allows Children with Diabetes to bring the diabetes online community together in a safe way, and at a time when we need the support of our community the most.

Thank you Lilly Diabetes, Dexcom, Insulet, Tandem Diabetes Care, and the American Diabetes Association.

View this full schedule of pre-recorded sessions!



In February 2020, we announced the cancellation of our in-person Friends for Life Indianapolis 2020 conference due to COVID-19 concerns. There was no doubt that we made the right call, but we knew in our hearts that we needed to do something to bring the diabetes community together during such uncharted times.

But we've never fully cancelled a Friends for Life conference ... and we have no plans to start now. Which is why we decided to hold the Friends for Life Indianapolis 2020 conference virtually instead!

Our goal with this virtual conference was to bring our community together while also keeping everyone safe. We proudly offered the conference for free, allowing the diabetes community to come together online and from around the globe (while maintaining our social distance).

Cancelling our in-person event and going fully digital has been a learning curve that has both tested our team and shown our fortitude, but we're dedicated to you, our CWD family.  Thanks to the help of our staff and our sponsors, we'll always make sure our community has access to good science, solid support, and the latest information in diabetes research and technology.

Thanks to you, our beloved community, for your continued trust. And thank you for joining us for our first virtual conference.

If you would like to support our mission and our efforts to keep Friends for Life alive in the age of social distancing, you can make a gift here.

Thank you for your support. We are in this together, because now - more than ever - caring for diabetes is easier when we do it together.

Messages from our sponsors


Conference Faculty


Edward Damiano, PhD, is Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University (BU) and President & CEO of Beta Bionics. Over the years, his lab at BU has been engaged in basic scientific research that combines aspects of fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, and intravital microscopy to study the biomechanics of the inner ear and blood flow in the microcirculation. In addition to his basic science research, he has also been committed to building a bionic pancreas for automatically controlling blood sugar levels in people with T1D. Ever since his 22-year-old son, David, was diagnosed with T1D in infancy, he has set his sights on creating a bihormonal (insulin and glucagon) bionic pancreas by building and integrating autonomous, intelligent systems into a purpose-built, wearable medical device. He and his engineering team at BU began conducting experiments testing an early prototype of their bionic pancreas running on a laptop computer in animal studies in 2005 and then progressed with clinical collaborators at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) through in-patient clinical trials in adults and adolescents with T1D from 2008–2012. From 2013–2019, he and his team at BU, along with clinical collaborators at MGH and other academic research centers across the US, conducted over a dozen home-use clinical trials in adults and children with diabetes. With support from the T1D community, he and his engineering team at BU began building the first purpose-built, fully integrated, bihormonal bionic pancreas that did not rely upon third-party smartphone technology. They called their device the iLet bionic pancreas. By the end of 2015, the iLet and associated technology was licensed to Beta Bionics, Inc., a Massachusetts Public Benefit Corporation committed to commercializing the iLet. Three home-use clinical trials testing the iLet were conducted in 2018 and 2019. Through a collaborative effort between Damiano’s lab at BU, 18 clinical research centers across the US, and the Jaeb Center for Health Research, a 13-week pivotal clinical trial is underway that is testing the commercial version of the iLet in 440 adults and children with T1D. The goal is to use the clinical data from this pivotal trial to support a market application for the iLet to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Faculty, Young Adult Program Staff

Collector of orange and green wristbands, Leigh Fickling, MEd, MS, JD, is the Director of the Disability Resource Center at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. With over 25 years of higher education administration experience, Leigh is an expert in college and workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities. As a former solo legal practitioner, Leigh’s law firm specialized in education law, disability law, and family law. Leigh is the mom to twins, Ava (green band) and Davis (orange band), and can most often be found in the FFL hallways shouting, “SLOW DOWN!” Leigh feels that FFL is the number one most important tool in her diabetes tool kit and can’t imagine trying to dia-beat-this without the strong support from her friends for life. FFL Conferences are the highlight of the year for the Fickling family and they can’t wait to welcome new and returning families into their circle of friends! #greenandorangeforlife


Mike Hoskins has been acting as his own pancreas since 1984, when he was diagnosed at age five. His mom also lives with T1D, diagnosed at the same young age. As managing editor of DiabetesMine.com since 2012, he’s an active patient advocate in the Diabetes Community and has two decades of experience in print and online journalism, including the Indianapolis Business Journal and Johnson County Daily Journal. He lived for 11 years in Greenwood with his wife and their black lab, Riley (his editorial assistant!) before they moved back to Metro Detroit. You can find him on Instagram at @DiabetesMineNews as well as other social media platforms, and offline you’ll probably find him exploring local coffee houses and microbreweries around the Great Lakes region.

Board of Directors, DTeam, Faculty, Occasional Expert, Treasurer

George Huntley is a founding member of the Diabetes Leadership Council (DLC) and currently serves as the CEO of both the DLC and its affiliate, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). He has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1983 and has 3 other family members also living with type 1. A passionate advocate for people with diabetes, George served as the National Chair of the Board of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in 2009. George is also the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Theoris Group, Inc., an IT and engineering professional services firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he has been the plan administrator of a self-insured, employer based health plan for over 20 years. In addition, George serves as the Treasurer of Children with Diabetes.


Jessica Kichler, CDCES, PhD, C.Psych, is a Clinical & Health Psychologist and Associate Professor, Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor, who specializes in clinical intervention research focusing on the psychosocial adjustment and coping with type 1 diabetes in youth and families. She completed her PhD at Kent State University in Ohio, her internship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and her Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor. She previously worked as a diabetes psychologist and certified diabetes educator at two academic medical centers (Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center) in the United States for almost 15 years before moving to the University of Windsor in the summer of 2020. Currently, she is interested in how to support college-aged students with type 1 diabetes most effectively transition into young adulthood. She is also involved in diabetes education practices and appreciates working collaboratively in interdisciplinary settings.


Kathryn Ortiz, MPH, CHES, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at three years old in 1995. She grew up in the Chicago area, but currently lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Almost two years ago, Kathryn joined the diabetes online community in hopes of raising awareness and educating the world about diabetes as well as to share her personal story. She is also involved in the Indiana diabetes community both through her job and personal time. Kathryn is the Diabetes Program Coordinator for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), but has previously worked as a Diabetes Education Instructor for the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana and interned at both the American Diabetes Association in Indiana and Illinois. Kathryn holds her bachelor’s degree in Public Health, a Masters in Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She is currently on the Tandem x2 and Dexcom G6.

Board of Directors, Faculty

R. Stewart Perry grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. Since 1983 he has been the co-owner of Perry & Perry State Farm Insurance, one of the largest State Farm Insurance agencies in the state of Kentucky and is a Diabetes Consultant and Advocate. Stewart’s family has been dramatically affected by diabetes. His son had type 1 diabetes, both parents, and sister have all had diabetes during their lifetime. He has lost a son, uncle, grandfather and great grandmother to complications of diabetes. Stewart was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1990. Since that time, he has been actively involved in Diabetes issues and groups. . Stewart was the Chairman of the National Board of Directors and the Chair of the National Advocacy Committee for five years at the American Diabetes Association. Stewart is a member of the Kentucky Diabetes Network and a founding member of the Fayette County Diabetes Collation. Stewart was appointed by two different Governors of Kentucky to the GET FIT KY Board and The Diabetes Research Trust Fund Board. Stewart is one of the founders of the Diabetes Leadership Council and currently serves as Chairman of that organization where he has been instrumental in passing Diabetes Action Plan legislation in 28 states. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition and served as interim CEO for three months. He is a very well know speaker in diabetes circles on advocacy related topics. Stewart serves on the board of Children with Diabetes.


Jillian Rippolone was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 at the age of eight. Jillian and her brother were diagnosed one year apart from one another. Jillian was one of the first type 1 Instagram accounts, spreading diabetes awareness and inspiring others to live confidently with type 1 diabetes. Jillian is a type 1 advocate, volunteer in her community, and on her social media platforms. She currently lives in Michigan and holds her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Social Science. You can find her on Instagram and facebook @t1dchick.

Faculty, Occasional Expert

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES, is owner and Clinical Director of Integrated Diabetes Services, a practice located just outside of Philadelphia specializing in intensive insulin therapy and advanced education for children and adults. He and his staff provide consultations throughout the world via phone and the internet. Gary is a Masters-level exercise physiologist. He has been a Certified Diabetes Educator for 19 years, and served as the 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year. He has had type 1 diabetes for 30 years and makes personal use of insulin pump therapy and CGM. Gary has written dozens of articles for diabetes trade publications and six books, including the popular Think Like A Pancreas – A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes With Insulin. He lectures nationally and internationally for people with diabetes as well as professionals in the healthcare industry. In addition to serving on the faculty of Children With Diabetes and the Board of Directors for JDRF, Gary volunteers for the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Sisters, and Setebaid Diabetes Camps. Gary has been happily married for 25 years and has four wonderful kids. A fitness fanatic, he enjoys playing basketball, running, cycling and cheering on his Philadelphia sports teams.


Cherise Shockley was diagnosed with LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in adults) June 2004. She is the founder of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#dsma), creator of the Blue Fridays initiative and WOCDiabetes (Women of Color living with Diabetes). Cherise is a subject matter expert in diabetes social media, online communities, and peer support. She is a wife, mother, and veteran.


Stacey Simms is the host of the award-winning podcast Diabetes Connections and was named one of Diabetes Forecast Magazine’s “People to Know: 2017.” Stacey’s son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006, one month before he turned two, and Stacey started blogging about her family’s experience with T1D a few week later. For more than a decade, she hosted Charlotte’s Morning News on WBT-AM, the city’s top-rated morning radio news show. Stacey’s been named to the Charlotte Business Journal’s Forty under 40 and as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Mecklenburg County by the Mecklenburg Times.


Kerri Sparling has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1986, diagnosed at the age of seven. She manages her diabetes and lives her life by the mantra “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps explain me.” Kerri is an internationally recognized diabetes advocate. She is the creator and author of Six Until Me, which from May 2005 to May 2019 was one of the most widely-read diabetes patient blogs, reaching a global audience of patients, caregivers, and industry. She has been featured on NPR, US News and World Report, CBNC, Yahoo! Health, LA Times, The Lancet, Whole Living, Disney’s Family.com, and Family Circle, among other national outlets. In addition to her writing, Kerri is a highly-rated speaker and has presented the patient perspective to audiences around the world. She works to raise awareness for diabetes, patient advocacy, and the influence of social media on health outcomes. Her first book, Balancing Diabetes (Spry Publishing), looks at type 1 diabetes in the context of “real life.” Kerri and her husband live in Rhode Island, USA, with their two children. You can follow her writing and the release of her next projects at KerriSparling.com.

CWD Staff, DTeam, Faculty, Nurse

Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDCES, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 31 years and has been coming to the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conferences since the beginning in the year 2000. She realized early on that helping other people living with diabetes was what she wanted to devote her life to, so she became a nurse and a diabetes educator. Marissa has worked in a diabetes clinic, as a pump trainer, as a Clinical Research Manager at Stanford University in diabetes research and has recently started as the Clinical Director for CWD. Her main goal is to help improve peoples’ quality of life and reduce barriers to quality healthcare. Marissa and her partner Adam have two young children, Connor and Everly, who also enjoy coming to Friends for Life to share their experiences growing up with a mom with type 1 diabetes. Marissa loves game nights, hiking with her dog Baxter, traveling (when it’s not a pandemic), and crafting with her kids.