Retinal Screening Team

The Retinal Screening Team helps our families get their eyes checked

Rob Freund, RN, EMT-P, is a career EMS lieutenant/paramedic for the Baltimore County Fire Department. He has also been in the field of emergency medical care for almost 20 years as an ER nurse. He attended his first Friends for Life Orlando conference in 2012 and was greatly impressed with the educational programs offered.

Ben Szirth, PhD, is the Director of Applied Vision Research Laboratory at the New Jersey Medical School and the Program Director of the Ophthalmic Telemedicine Program, a community base outreach service addressing the homeless and low income families of New Jersey. His main research interest is in advanced imaging devices that can detect early signs of diabetes, glaucoma and age related macular degeneration. He holds three patents in the field of ophthalmology and has published over 50 peer review papers in the area of ocular imaging in English, Japanese, Spanish and French. Dr. Szirth has lectured in over 25 Countries in Hungarian (native language), English, French, Italian and Japanese.

Chris Freund, BSN, RN, attended her first Friends for Life Conference after her daughter Molly was diagnosed with diabetes in March 2005 at the age of six. She has been a pediatric emergency department nurse for 15+ years and loves working with kids. She is also mom to Andrew, Elizabeth and Benjamin who have grown up with CWD.

Jane Hunsche, RN, is the mother of Kara, diagnosed in 2001 at the age of six, and Philip, and wife to Dave. Jane has been advocating for Kara and others with diabetes ever since. She is a Registered Nurse, having worked in Neonatal Intensive Care for 23 years, and has now moved on to working with adults and their families in long term care. Jane is thrilled to be able to give back to CWD families for all that has been given to her family. She says, “Friends For Life has been life changing for us. It allows Kara to feel like she is not alone and to make friends who just ‘get it.’ The education and support we receive surpasses any we receive locally and we have made true friends for life!”

Belinda Peach is mom to Hannah (19) and Brianna (23). Hannah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 2004 at the age of four, and they attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2005. During the lunch break on the first day of the conference, Hannah, then five, asked , “When am I getting my pump?” It was great timing! Hannah started pumping that fall, just a couple weeks after starting kindergarten. Belinda knew after that first conference, given all the friends they’d made and all that they’d learned, that their family would be at every FFL conference. Belinda and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Belinda is an Oracle database administrator for the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).

Brandy Schmidt is a mother of two, Brandon, dx'd 1997, and Rhiannon, dx'd 2009. When Brandon was diagnosed, Brandy came home from the hospital and found the CWD page and chat room on the first search. Brandy has been addicted to CWD from the very beginning. She has been an advocate for all military families dealing with diabetes and other special needs. Brandy is currently enrolled in college hoping to eventually make it through nursing school. Brandy lives in Coastal North Carolina with her husband, Jeffrey after he retired from the Marine Corps. They currently have four dogs.

Rhiannon Schmidt, age 21, attends Louisiana State University, majoring in Anthropology. She also plays the trumpet in The Golden Band from Tiger Land. Rhiannon attended her first Friends for Life conference when she was four years old, and she and her family have been attending them ever since. Rhiannon has been insulin resistant for 13 years. She looks forward to being staff for a fourth year and making new Friends for Life.


Indicates Retinal Screening Team member with diabetes

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