A finicky connoisseur of hotel meeting space, cappuccino, and kid-friendly cheese and fruit platters, Laura Billetdeaux, MS is CWD’s VP of Education and Programs. Since the first CWD event in June 2000, Laura has organized Friends for Life conferences, always keeping in mind the true purpose of Children with Diabetes — education and support of families with type 1, and always keeping in mind why it all works—the efforts of so many dedicated individuals. Laura lives in Manchester, Michigan with her husband Neal. They are parents of Sam, FFL Meet-Ups Coordinator, and Carolyn, CWD’s Volunteer and Training Coordinator.
Jeff Hitchcock is the founder and president of Children with Diabetes. After earning a degree in computational mathematics in 1981, Jeff worked in high tech and traveled the world, meeting Brenda, who would become his wife, in Africa. In September of 1989, their first child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two. Jeff worked in defense related industries until 1995, when he started a small internet company and launched Children with Diabetes to share his family's experience caring for a child with T1D. He subsequently worked at LEXIS-NEXIS and Pearson plc on Internet initiatives, and now works full time bringing Children with Diabetes to you. Jeff also serves on the Board of Directors for the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) and Beta Bionics. Jeff received the 2021 ISPAD Hero Award for his work on Children with Diabetes.
Carolyn Billetdeaux, MBA, has worn almost every 'hat' in her 21 years with CWD – from youth attendee to volunteer to staff to Tween & Siblings program leader – and played a key role in developing the Siblings youth programming track. After taking a year off to pursue her MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, Carolyn returned to FFL in a behind-the-scenes role. She continues to act as a mentor for new program leaders, and also supports volunteer training, the FFL auction, and other CWD operations as needed. Carolyn loves spending time with her Friends for Life family and enjoys helping CWD continue to grow and thrive for the next generation of FFLs.
Brenda Hitchcock is mom to Marissa (dx’d at 24 months), Kathryn, and Tim. She’s worked side-by-side with her husband Jeff on Children with Diabetes since it began in 1995. Brenda brings a mom’s perspective to diabetes care, is editor of the “Ask the Diabetes Team” section of the Children with Diabetes website, and helps out in countless ways at Friends for Life conferences.
David Jarcho has been a CWD Dad since 2011. His son was diagnosed at age 12 in 2010. Like most dads, David attended his first Friends for Life Orlando conference to support his son and family and learn all he could about type 1 diabetes. The experience was life-changing and he has volunteered at Friends for Life ever since. You can find David at the First Timers area (near Registration), welcoming new families to the Friends for Life community.
Marie Jarcho lives in Connecticut with her husband David and son Max (dx'd 2010, now in college). At their first FFL conference nine years ago, they saw immediately how impactful all the support they found there would be to living well with type 1 and the family has been helping out ever since. Marie is the coordinator of the Buddy Program for First Timers, is on the First Timer's Orientation Team and helps out at Registration welcoming FFL attendees. Back at home she works in Logistics for a battery/energy storage company.
Beth Levering is a part-time Project Manager and Administrative Assistant for Children with Diabetes. Beth was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 21, shortly after graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a Communication degree. She lives in the Cincinnati area and is married and a mom to three - two boys and a girl. Beth co-created a support group in the Northern Cincinnati area called “Sisterhood of the Defunct Pancreases" for adult T1 women. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, spending time outdoors, and traveling to new places.
Hannah Mattingly is the older sister of Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1998. Hannah and her family have been to all the Friends for Life Orlando conferences and many of the regionals. Hannah started in childcare at four years old and moved through all the youth programs. She graduated from Spalding University in Louisville Kentucky with a MBA in Health Science & Healthcare Management. Hannah considers FFL her extended family and always loves to meet new people to make new Friends for Life. She likes giving back to the CWD community and is happy her brother has learned how to take care of himself with all the advancements in diabetes.
Julia Mattingly is proud mom of Hannah and Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in July of 1998 at 10 months old and started pumping when he was three years old. Julia has attended every Friends for Life conference and most of the regionals as well. Julia coordinates registration at each conference, and you can always find her when you need a smile and hug. Julia loves coordinating registration and being able to meet and talk to everyone who attends. Her favorite Friends for Life memory is from 2000 when she met all of her CWD email moms in Orlando for the first time. She also loves to see the smiles on her children’s faces when they re-connect with their CWD friends each summer. "Coming to Friends for Life has changed our lives, I have friends that 'get it' and what we as moms go through. But mostly it has helped teach Ethan how to take care of himself, to live his best life on his own and taught us all how to give back to the CWD community."
Carolyn Meredith is mom to Chelsea, Jeremy (dx’d May 2000), and Bailey and wife to Rich. Carolyn and her family attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and have been involved with CWD ever since. Carolyn works with Rich managing the storage facility and works with the Support Team as central communications during the conference. For her day job, Carolyn is the Data Management Tech at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida. She enjoys meeting and sharing with other CWD families. “Friends for Life is a place where everyone ‘gets it’ and you can share your own experiences to help others newer to T1D.”
Rich Meredith is dad to Jeremy (dx'd May 2000), Bailey, and Chelsea. He has been involved in CWD since the family attended their first conference in 2003. His day job is working in IT, but on the side he makes "big bowls," hand thrown pottery pieces which have been found at diabetes and community art related fund raising auctions. Rich coordinates the load in and load out of all conference materials. He also oversees the exhibit hall, from set-up to tear down and everything in between for the FFL conference. Children with Diabetes has been a huge part of his family’s life, and they have all made lifelong friendships here.
Kristen O’Dell, MS, RD, CDCES, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine, in 1998. Despite her resistance to accepting this diagnosis, it has been the driving force behind her pursuing a career as a dietitian. She earned her Master’s degree in Dietetics at D’Youville College and became a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Kristen has worked in a children’s clinic, long term care nursing facilities, as an insulin pump trainer, and is now providing diabetes and nutrition counseling through her company, Focused Diabetes Solutions, all while being the Dietitian at CWD FFL conferences. Her goal is to empower people living with diabetes so that they can navigate all the ups and downs of life (and blood sugars). Kristen and her husband, Shawn, have a child, Corwin, plus one on the way. Kristen enjoys cooking and baking in the kitchen, working in the garden, rooting for the Buffalo Bills, traveling around the world, and reading (when she can find a little free time).
Harold Sanco, CPT, is a former National Aerobic Champion and two time bronze medalist at the National Step Challenge Competition. He has been voted Washington, DC's "Best Instructor" by Washingtonian magazine and The Washington Post. With more than 20 years of experience in youth physical education and coaching, he is an internationally acclaimed instructor and trainer who teaches across the United States, Canada and 15 countries for some of the top fitness conferences in the world. His popular "Urban Funk" class has been featured in People, Allure and W magazines. He is AFAA certified and a Master Trainer for Lebert Training Systems.
Lisa Smith is the director of development for Children with Diabetes. She previously served as director of development for TCU in Fort Worth, Texas; Oklahoma State University Foundation in Stillwater, Oklahoma; the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma; The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio; and the I KNOW I CAN college access program in Columbus, Ohio. She holds a bachelor's degree in art history from Miami University, a master's degree in art education and a master's degree in art history, both from The Ohio State University, and began course work for her Ph.D. in art history at the Graduate School and University Center, CUNY in New York City. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1986 and currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky.
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.
Joanne Stroud, MHA, is first and foremost a CWD Mom. Her son Ben was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 10 and Children with Diabetes quickly became their lifeline. She attended her first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and instantly became hooked, telling Laura she’d do anything (within reason of course!) she could, to assist Children with Diabetes. At one point or another, all of the Strouds, including newly added wives have given back as Friends for Life faculty/staff which is truly what FFL is all about! When not working with CWD, Joanne is a Flight Attendant. She and her newly retired husband Jim, recently relocated to the Seattle, WA area and are enjoying their new adventure.
Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDCES, has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1989 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.
Indicates CWD staff member with diabetes