Staff_Faculty

Kiddie Kove Team

Our Kiddie Kove Team takes care of our youngest Fiffles -- kids age five and younger.

Mary Babin, RN, BSN, CDCES, has served as the childcare coordinator since the very first CWD conference. Mary leads a team of certified diabetes educators providing care and fun in a safe environment for kids under age five with and without diabetes. Providing this service alleviates the concerns of many parents of kids with diabetes – allowing them to attend the sessions with peace of mind knowing that their children are cared for by skilled professionals. This supports Mary's belief that education is the key to successful diabetes management. Mary has devoted her career to the world of medicine. As a graduate of Eastern University and Presbyterian School of Nursing, Mary currently works as a clinical specialist for an insulin pump company. She has been a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist for over 25 years. This busy mom and devoted professional has been involved with Children with Diabetes since 2001. You can spot her at the conferences -- she's the one with the trail of kids behind her!

Parker Grand is excited to be volunteering at Friends for Life as Children with Diabetes has given him so much support and friendship over the years. Parker has attended every Friends for Life conference since his diagnosis at the age of three in 2002. Parker lives in California where he attends college full-time. He is employed by the California State Parks where he coordinates youth programs, leads guided tours and develops new programs to teach children an appreciation for the history and ecology of the parks. Parker loves working with children of all ages. In his free time, you can find him biking, golfing, and volunteering.

Shelley Grand, mom to Parker, diagnosed in 2002, resides in Southern California. Shelley and her family have been attending Friends for Life Orlando conferences since 2003, and they attribute Parker’s success in managing his type 1 to the knowledge, support and friendship that they have received over the years from attending the FFL conferences. Shelley has been a preschool teacher/director for the past 30 years. She states, “We look forward to attending FFL every year and enjoy being able to give back to a community that has given so much to our family.”

Helen Rodenheiser, MEd, is a kindergarten teacher with a masters degree in special education. She loves working with the little ones each year! She has been attending Friends for Life conferences with her husband Kenny Rodenheiser (T1) since 2011. Helen loves coming to FFL each year for the sense of community and belonging. "It's nice to be in a place where other people just get it."

Sailor Abel was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two. Sailor attended her first Friends for Life conference in 2002 at the age of three. She has worked her way through all of the age groups learning and absorbing all the information she could about type 1 diabetes. She has been volunteering with Kiddie Kove since 2018. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor of science in environmental studies. She is excited for her next adventure! Sailor is so grateful for everything she has experienced growing up through CWD. She has made the very best of friends who have become her family.

Shelby Braaten was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in January 2018. She is currently in college working toward her nursing degree so that one day she can become a Diabetes Educator. She attended her first Friends for Life Orlando conference six months after being diagnosed and will forever be thankful for the friends and community that FFL has provided her. She is beyond excited to be volunteering this year!

Alexa Brenner was diagnosed with diabetes in 1997, and has been attending Friends for Life Orlando conferences since 2006. FFL has empowered her to take charge with her own diabetes and advocate for both herself and others, and has allowed her to meet some of her best friends. Alexa is currently working in healthcare and being politically active through both work and personal life. She’s excited to be volunteering so she can give back to CWD, which has given her so much.

Rebecca DeLong was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of five. She attended her first conference in 2007 in La Jolla, California, and has been attending conferences all over the country since then. Rebecca cannot thank CWD enough for helping her build life-long friendships and an amazing diabetes community. She is excited to be part of the team this year and give back to the CWD community.

Maggie Engel is a recent graduate of the University of Central Florida and is the secretary of Macey's Believers, a nonprofit serving families living with type 1 diabetes. She has been involved with Macey's Believers since its beginning in 2016. This is her forth year attending CWD with her best friend Macey and Macey's Believers.

Susan Feldt is from O'Fallon, Missouri. Her daughter was diagnosed with T1D in 2014. After finding out about FFL in early 2018 she and her family attended their first conference and have attended every year since. Susan is an early childhood professional and has worked in the field for over 30 years. She currently serves as the assistant director and lead Pre-K teacher for Kids International in Ellisville, Missouri. Susan has worked with many preschool children over the years, helping them to navigate T1D at school. She is excited to volunteer in Kiddie Kove this year in Orlando and looks forward to giving back to Children with Diabetes for many years to come.

Lynet Fox is the mother of three girls, Marisa (29), Jessica (27), and Erica (25), and Granna to three grandsons. She attended her first Friends for Life Orlando conference in 2004 after Erica was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She has not missed a Friends for Life Conference since first attending. Her daughter Jessica was diagnosed in December 2010 at the age of 16. Lynet currently is a stay at home grandma. The entire family looks forward to conference in Orlando each summer. She has volunteered in different capacities at Friends for Life conferences over the past 18 years.

Macey Gaskins was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13 months old. Her family has been coming to Friends for Life Orlando since she was three. Some of you may know her through my family's non-profit organization, Macey's Believers. They fundraise to help provide scholarships for families to come to FFL. This conference has changed Macey's life in so many ways, including encouraging her to pursue becoming a registered nurse. Helping people and building relationships within the T1D community has always been a passion of hers. This is Macey's first year volunteering at Friends for Life, and she couldn’t be more excited to do what she loves with the people she loves!

Avery Green

Avery Green was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was three years old. She started attending Friends for Life in 2017. Avery looks forward to Friends for Life Orlando every year to see her best friends that she has made over the years. This is Avery’s first year volunteering and she is so excited to be able to contribute to the experience she loves so much! Avery has recently graduated and will start college in the fall. In her free time, you can find her playing soccer, playing lacrosse, or hanging out with friends.

Stella Hogan has had type 1 diabetes since 2014 and is a recent high school graduate. She will be attending Southeastern University this fall to pursue a nursing degree, with plans to become a pediatric diabetes educator after college. Stella hopes to one day work in the central Florida area. She attended her first FFL conference less than 30 days after being diagnosed and is very excited to be volunteering with the Kiddie Kove Team this summer, as she loves working with children. Stella is active with her church and spends time volunteering at the Lake Wales Care Center and Special Olympics.

Deana Jimenez is am married with two children, one son and one daughter. Her family lives in a suburb of Orlando, Florida. Both children are teenagers. Deana's daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 in February of 2018. Their family attended their first Friends for Life that July. They have definitely met friends they will have for life. Deana has taught in the field of early childhood education for over thirty years. she have worked with multiple ages and really enjoys teaching prekindergarten the most.

Elizabeth Joynes is 18 years old and is the younger sister of Molly who was diagnosed with type 1 in 2005. She has been coming to FFL ever since then and has been to many regional conferences as well. Elizabeth is currently enrolled in an early childhood education program and can't wait to start her senior year in August. After growing up attending FFL, she is super excited to be able to work in Kiddie Kove this year!

Krista Kepler BSN, RN, is a registered nurse from central Pennsylvania and is super excited to be involved with FFL this year! She is a graduate of Penn State University, and currently works as a Float Nurse for UPMC in their pediatric/NICU units, as well as maternal health. She loves the beach, traveling, Penn State football, weiner dogs, and most importantly her husband Travis, and their two children.

Katelyn Littlefield

Katelyn Littlefield was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine in 2005, and has been attending the Friends for Life conferences yearly since 2006. She has a bachelors degree in psychology with a minor in counseling, and is a dog trainer. CWD is like a second family with so much love and support. She says it is so nice to give back to a community that's left such an impact on her.

Colleen O'Connell

Colleen O'Connell, RN, is wife to Bob, mom to Kaileigh (dx. 1/2007), and Meg, age 14. Colleen and her family have attended FFL conferences since 2008 learning as much as they could, making friends, and giving Kaileigh another family. She works as an RN in the NICU at Beth Israel Lahey Medical Center in Boston, MA. Colleen recalls, "At our first FFL conference, we met Sunshine Abel (also a nurse and mom to a child with type 1) in childcare. We were nervous to leave Kaileigh; she was young and newly diagnosed. But, I remember the confidence we had when we met Sunshine and the staff." Colleen has been volunteering in Kiddie Kove since 2019 and hopes that she is able to make other families comfortable leaving their children so that they can attend seminars and gain knowledge and support in caring for their child and family. Colleen says, "I am so happy to give back to CWD after everything the conferences and people involved in CWD have given to us over the years!"

Kaileigh O’Connell was diagnosed with diabetes at age three and has been coming to Friends for Life Orlando since 2008. This is her second year volunteering and she is so excited! She is 20 years old working as a certified Infant, Toddler, and Preschool teacher. Kaileigh is attending college at Southern New Hampshire University with a major of Early Childhood Education. She has a sister Meg, and her mom and dad volunteer with Kiddie Kove as a nurse and as a Room Captain, respectively. She is excited for another year and can’t wait for this year and years to come!

Piper Ogden is 20 years old and lives in Columbus, Ohio. She is a rising junior at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, with a major in Elementary Education and minors in math and reading. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March 2019. After attending the virtual conference in 2020, she has been eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to attend Friends for Life in-person. She loves working with kids and cannot wait to serve as a mentor and guide to others with T1D as well as their families. She is so excited to experience the joy and support of the T1D community and make new friends. She hopes to continue volunteering for many future years!

Tammy Point, LPN, CDP, currently serves as a Specialty Programs Liaison with Abode Healthcare. She is a former private duty and elementary school nurse who specialized in medically fragile children. Tammy is excited to volunteer at Friends for Life because her son-in-law (and CWD Volunteer), Brian, has been living with T1D since the age of 15. Tammy enjoys spending time with family and her dogs, Chloe and Sonny.

Kait Slack is excited to be joining FFL for the second year, this time as a Volunteer. Kait is a Medical Assistant at the Pediatric Diabetes Resource Center in Central Illinois. She has been around Diabetes for about five years, working in the PCCU and now the PDRC. Also, her dad lives with type 2 diabetes. Her family has been going to Disney every year since she was 10 years old, and she likes to think of herself as a Disney expert at this point. In her free time, Kait enjoys going for walks, getting ice cream, snuggling with her dog Roxie, attending college football games at Iowa State and Army West Point, and watching movies.

Lynn Smits

Lynn Smits is mother to Caroline, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2001 at age eight. They attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and continued to attend and volunteer for many more years. Lynn is happy to be back volunteering again this year along side both of her daughters. She enjoys working at a vocational center for adults who are diagnosed with autism, intellectual disabilities, and head and spinal cord injuries. When Lynn isn't working, she loves spending time with her favorite (and only) granddaughter.

Emily Wenig

Emily Wenig is the mother of David, who was diagnosed at age eight in 2018. With her husband Dave and her other children Emmett, Lia, and Logan, Emily has attended Friends For Life Orlando every year since and has made many MOFFLs who have truly become friends for life. Emily spends her days homeschooling her children and traveling. She is incredibly excited and honored to have the opportunity to give back to the Children with Diabetes community that has given so much to her over the past several years.

Ren Wright was diagnosed at age five with type 1 diabetes. She enjoys working with kids and animals. Ren is headed to NIU as a freshman this coming Fall. When not volunteering at Friends for Life, she works at a pet store.

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Indicates Kiddie Kove Team member with diabetes

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