Teen Program Staff
Natalie Bellini, RN, CDE, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was a young child. Within a year of finishing nursing school, she started to care for people with diabetes, focusing first on diabetes in pregnancy then pediatrics and insulin requiring adults. She has worked on the medical side of camps for children and teens in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She has spoken nationally and internationally as an expert in both working with teens and their parents with diabetes as well as infusion set choice, usage and maintenance. Her fundamental goal when developing the teenage curriculum for Children with Diabetes conferences is that each and every teen that attends finds a passion in life and pursues it. She is currently attending Drexel University part time in order to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Natalie is a senior territory manager with Animas Corporation and mom to her own teen, Erin, who is now a junior in college.
Marissa Hitchcock, BSN, RN, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 24 months old. She completed her bachelor of science in nursing in 2009 and works as a nurse in Tampa, Florida. She loves working with kids who have diabetes. Marissa brings her experiences as a diabetes camp counselor, nurse, and young adult with diabetes as she works with kids and teens at CWD's conferences.
Galen Horton was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 15. That summer, at the direction of his healthcare team, he attended a camp in North Carolina for children with diabetes. For the last 24 summers Galen has attended Camp Carolina Trails, working his way up through the program staff. Over the last 17 years, Galen has been a program director for the teenagers at Carolina Trails working to develop leadership and communication skills, fostering a positive mental attitude, and encouraging a strong sense of self-confidence and motivation for his campers through challenging, high adventure programs. Nearly 10 years ago, Galen joined the sales organization at Animas Corporation to marry his work life and his personal passion and commitment for helping others cope with their diabetes. Galen lives in North Carolina with his wife, Kelly, and his 3 children, Tanner, Riley, and Eli.
Alanna Landry, RN, CDE, has been a pediatric nurse for 20 years and has worked with children with type 1 diabetes for 13. She is part of a great team of professionals at Markham Stouffville Hospitals Pediatric Diabetes program. She feels honored and privileged that each day she is able to work with the great kids and families that attend their clinic. Alanna attended Orlando conference in 2008 and knew that being part of CWD just felt right. When not at work, Alanna is a parent to Kelsi, Taylor, and Carter.
Bob Marquess is the proud father of Diamond and husband of Rhonda. He has participated in CWD since 2004 and volunteered at CWD conferences since 2006. Bob enjoys volunteering with the teens and is an advocate for diabetes awareness. This will be the Marquess family's 6th Friends for Life conference. They plan to come every year until there is a cure! Bob is a Marine Corps veteran and currently resides in West Virginia.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, and trained as an architect, Adriana Rodenheiser is mom to Kenny (currently in nursing school) and wife to Ken. Kenny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003, and the Rodenheisers attended their first CWD conference in 2004. They have been involved as CWD staff ever since. Adriana states, "As parents, we know it is our responsibility to give Kenny all the tools to make his life with diabetes better and his future bright. CWD gives us the hope, knowledge, and support we desperately need." Now a high school Spanish teacher, Adriana loves working with children of all ages. This summer at Friends for Life she will be working with the teen group.
Jeff Schmidt is dad to Brandon and Rhiannon, husband to Brandy, and "Schmidty" to the CWD teens. Jeff has been a Marine for the last 16 years and is currently stationed in North Carolina. Jeff has served as CWD staff for several years (since the family attended their first conference), working with both the tween and teen groups. He also has been an advocate for military families receiving the assistance they need. Jeff loves working with the kids at CWD conferences and is continually amazed by their strength and determination.
Robert Schmidt is a CWD dad with 22 years of active duty service in the United States Marine Corp — and still counting. Husband to Rebecca and father of two, Robert's active duty job entails Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Secret Service Ops. However, he finds that dealing with his son Zachary's type 1 diabetes can be more frustrating and unpredictable than military life. Robert states, "I have enjoyed all times spent with the CWD staff and families at any event, and I want to give back in any way I can for what CWD has given to my family."
Chris Tull is first and foremost Trevor's dad and Bernadette's husband. Since Trevor's diagnosis in late 2002, Chris served as a Legislative Chair and Diabetes Advocate, lobbying in his local districts and on Capitol Hill for diabetes funding and awareness. After attending his first CWD conference in 2003, Chris became very involved with CWD conferences, serving as staff for the teen program and overseeing all security matters for each and every conference. His diabetes claim to fame? In his eagerness to remove the air bubbles from Trevor's syringe the first time he gave a shot, he flicked it so hard that he bent the needle, causing his son to proclaim, "Oh, Dad's going to be good at this!" Chris is a police officer in Virginia Beach, and a former Marine.
Jim Vail was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 19 while he was a sophomore at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Jim graduated with a degree in Media Communications and was a producer for CNBC Business news in Washington, D.C., for nine years all the while wrestling with the unpredictability of NPH and Regular insulin. After finally going on a pump in October of 2001 and 'getting his life back,' Jim pursued Animas Corporation, the maker of his insulin pump, for a job and a chance to reach others with diabetes. Jim made the jump from CNBC and has been with Animas Corporation since April 2002.
Tween Program Staff
Justin Abel attended his first CWD conference in 2002 after his daughter Saylor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2001. Once he started attending more CWD conferences, his wife Sunshine did not have to twist his arm for him to realize he wanted to get more involved. He is also dad to Sierra, who is a teen volunteer with CWD.
Carolyn Billetdeaux graduated from NYU with a degree in international business and Spanish and currently works as a sustainability consultant. She is older sister to Sam, who has had diabetes for over 13 years. Carolyn presents type 1 diabetes as a family disease: it affects everyone. She was a founding member of IDYA and founded the Supplies branch of the Children with Diabetes Foundation in 2003. She loves traveling and meeting other CWD families.
Amanda Ferraro was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003 at 13 and Celiac Disease in 2009 at 19. Now 20, she is currently pumping with Omnipod (getting help from her CGMS-Navigator) and continuing to search for new gluten free foods. Amanda doesn't let diabetes or celiac stand in her way of accomplishing anything she sets out to do. Only the strong survive. Amanda is a junior nursing student in Minnesota.
Kim Kelly, Pharm. D., BCPS, FCCP, is President of Kelly Diabetes Associates, and former Director of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute-North America. Dr. Kelly has a lengthy and distinguished career involving patient care, academic medicine, and organizational involvement including President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Chairman of the ACCP Research Institute, and Board of Directors of the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association. His research and experience have included a number of publications, participation on editorial boards and review panels of several journals, involvement in medical curriculum development, and various committees of professional organizations. Currently, his activities center around developing diabetes health management and educational programs for various health care providers and provider organizations. Delighted to work with children and teens alike, Dr. Kelly participated as a volunteer in the Orlando and Universal City Friends for Life conferences, where he became 'hooked' in working with the wonderful CWD kids and families. He joined CWD as 'regular faculty' in 2004, focusing on the Tween programming and providing presentations on various topics to parents as well.
Sarah Melendez, BSN, graduated from West Chester University's nursing program in August 2010, and is in the process of receiving her PA nursing license. After her son Brady was diagnosed at 13 months old in 2004, she decided to pursue a career in nursing, with a future focus on endocrinology. In 2005, Sarah and Brady attended their first CWD conference and it has become an integral part of their lives every year. Currently, Sarah lives outside of Philadelphia and is thrilled to become a part of the CWD staff.
Kelsey Martin was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12. She attended her first CWD conference two months later, and has since become an active volunteer. Kelsey has worked with first timers, tweens, and elementary-age children at CWD conferences. She is also active in her local chapter of JDRF as an ambassador and volunteer, and was the sole Kansas representative at the 2007 Children's Congress. Kelsey continues to be an advocate as she studies journalism and business in college.
Sara McNeeley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 9 and has been living with diabetes for 12 years. She completed her Master's Degree in Entertainment Business in August of 2010 and now works in Los Angeles in the music industry. Since attending her first conference in 2001, CWD has become one of the most important parts of her life. She looks forward to competing for the best blood sugar among her conference friends and doesn't travel anywhere without a juice box.
Don Plotts is dad to Jessica, Tyler and Annie and husband to Holly. Jessica was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and their lives haven't been the same since. Shortly after Jessica was diagnosed, their entire family decided they wanted to make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes. Don served as the Sports Director for a diabetes camp for six years, has run marathons and ridden in Tour De Cures to raise money and also lobbied congress to change policies. In 2006, Don was finally able to tie his passion and career together, joining Animas. Don and his family currently reside in Nashville, TN.
Melissa Ringley, R.N., C.D.E., became a registered nurse in 1991. Shortly afterward, Elizabeth, her 3 year old daughter, was diagnosed with diabetes. It became abundantly clear to Melissa that she should learn all she could to help her daughter maintain a healthy and happy life with diabetes. Melissa has dedicated her entire career to diabetes since that moment. She brings her own personal experience to CWD families and understands the many stages of development and how diabetes impacts both the patient and family. Melissa's previous career as a certified diabetes educator has included a variety of settings including diabetes education centers, multi-physician practices, and hospitals. Melissa's expertise is in insulin pump therapy in children. She has been working with Animas Corporation since 2001. At Animas, she has worked both nationally and internationally as a clinical manager and she is now a Territory Manager in Tennessee. Her daughter is now a junior in college.
Ken Rodenheiser is 20 years old and finished his sophomore year at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Ken is majoring in nursing, and would eventually like to become a CDE. Ken was diagnosed with diabetes seven years ago, and has continued to be as active as before he was diagnosed. He has been an active part of the CWD community for six years, and looks forward to helping others enjoy similar conference experiences. Ken enjoys playing sports, especially soccer, volleyball, and hockey.
Lynn Smits is the mother of two wonderful daughters, Wendy and Caroline. Caroline was diagnosed with diabetes in July 2001 at age 8. The family attended their first Friends for Life Conference in 2003 and they have been attending conferences ever since. Immediately after their first conference, Lynn went home and found a new endocrinologist for Caroline after seeing first-hand that there was a better way to manage diabetes. While diabetes is always there, Lynn and her family have chosen to incorporate it into their lives and not to make it the focus of everyday life. At home in Aiken, SC, Lynn is a social worker who coordinates services for people with autism.
Adam Town, BSN, RN, graduated from the University of Cincinnati's nursing program in 2009. Adam enjoys working with all children and is interested in pediatric nursing. He lives in Tampa and works at Tampa General Hospital. Adam enjoys sports of all kinds with a particular interest in baseball. Adam has a family history of diabetes but does not have diabetes himself.
Elementary Program Staff
Sunshine Abel, LVN, is the mother of two beautiful girls, Sierra and Sailor. She attended her first CWD conference with her family in 2002, after Sailor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Ever since then, Sunshine knew she had found a new family and a new home where kids were experiencing the same thing as Sailor. She then made it her mission to involve her whole family, including her Aunt Libby. Sunshine, husband Justin, and Aunt Libby all have volunteered for several years at Friends for Life conferences.
Lorraine Anderson, BSc, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator. She has had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years and believes that having diabetes has made her a stronger and healthier person. Currently Lorraine is employed as a Clinical Manager with Animas Canada working in the Toronto area and is very passionate about insulin pump therapy. She enjoys working with kids with type 1 diabetes at Camp Huronda in the summer months and is a busy full-time mom to her three children Nicholas, Nathan and Kara.
Sam Billetdeaux, diagnosed at age 8, is determined that diabetes will never get in the way of his life dreams. Sam is an active member of the CWD Young Adult program and has traveled to Denmark, Italy, the UK, and all across the United States to exchange ideas with other CWD teens, young adults, and their families. Sam is an avid athlete and enjoys running and working out with friends. He is in college studying Spanish and the environment.
Martyn Carr, now 22, lives in Scotland. He is a qualified car mechanic and is studying Healthcare, hoping to study nursing and specialise in diabetes so that he can take care of kids with type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was five years old. Martyn and his family have participated in the last six Friends for Life conferences and helped out at the UK Friends for Life conference. Martyn has worked with the Elementary Group for the last three years and also with the tweens. He loves helping out and being with his other friends at CWD conferences.
Garrett Cope has attended CWD conferences for the past seven years. He became a CWD volunteer as soon as he joined the teen group and has continued to volunteer at various conferences. He has helped his sister manage her type 1 diabetes since her diagnosis in 2003. He remains active in fund-raising events and diabetes awareness. Garrett lives with his family in Miami, Florida.
Ralph Della Sala is a student at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Ralph was diagnosed four years ago and attended his first conference just two weeks after diagnosis. His sister, Kristen, was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago. Ralph is grateful for the opportunity to give back to CWD and is thankful for everything CWD has done for him.
Katie Doyle is in her junior year at Marquette University, where she studies broadcasting and theater. She was diagnosed with type 1 at age 11, just before her twelfth birthday. After 8 years of living with diabetes, she knows that nothing is impossible, yet there is still much to learn! Her 2008 Walk for the Cure team, Katie's Crusaders, was acknowledged by JDRF for its contributions with a silver award. Katie was a proud recipient of the 2009 and 2010 Diabetes Scholars Foundation Youth Scholarship, which introduced to her the wonderful world of Friends For Life.
Grace Grande-Cassell is a senior at the University of Michigan, studying English and Art History. She hopes to work in the fashion industry after college and is spending the summer interning at Interview Magazine in New York City. Grace has grown up with a connection to type 1 diabetes because of her grandfather who was diagnosed at age 14. This is her first Friends for Life conference, and she is very excited to be joining the Children With Diabetes community.
Brian Grant, 21, is a senior nursing major at Shepherd University, who would eventually like to become a CDE. Brian was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002; he wears an insulin pump and a continuous sensor. Brian has never let diabetes get in the way of his goals in life, and he is committed to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. This is Brian's third Friends for Life conference, and he is very happy to be working with the elementary program this summer!
Jen Hanson was diagnosed at three years old and has been living life with diabetes for 23 years. She spent 18 summers of her life at Camp Huronda, an Ontario based camp for children with diabetes, as a camper, climbing staff, pottery instructor and program director. Jen has completed a bachelor of kinesiology as well as a bachelor of education degree. She is currently completing her master of education degree and research experiential diabetes education. Jen works with Connected in Motion—an active and adventurous community of adults with Type 1 diabetes based in Canada. She has been involved with Children with Diabetes FFL since 2009.
Kim Kaar has been involved with CWD as both parent and volunteer since her son Alex was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 18 months old in February 2000. When not advocating, educating, or raising research funds for pediatric disease, Kim enjoys any opportunity to work with special needs children at her local elementary school. It is there that she also enjoys Chairing the school's Cultural Arts Committee. Kim, her husband Marko, and their three children live on the shoreline in southeastern Connecticut.
Kaitlyn Karlya is a CWD kid and is a student at Stony Brook University (Class of 2012) in New York where she is pursuing her undergraduate studies on a pathway to become a physician's assistant with an emphasis in diabetes. She is also a member of the Medford Ambulance Corp in her hometown on Long Island. She has had diabetes since she was diagnosed at age two in 1992 and has been an advocate for many years. Her experience working with kids includes helping organize the Special Olympics in her home town for four years and also as a camp counselor for three years for the Barton Diabetes Center at their summer camp held on Long Island. The Girl Scout Gold Award recipient has had many other accolades bestowed upon her including one she is most proud; she is a recipient of a 2008 Scholarship from the Diabetes Scholars Foundation.
Lauren Lanning, mom of Monica, 17, dx 8/96, pumping 5/99, CGM 9/05, and Sarah, 15 ... her CWD "sig line." Lauren became involved with CWD shortly after her daughter was diagnosed in 1996. She has been involved in the CWD diabetes conferences since the very first gathering in Orlando in 2000, where she volunteered to make name badges. Lauren now coordinates the Elementary Programming for every CWD conference. Back home in Denver, she has served on the boards of the JDRF and CWD Foundation. She and her husband Steve have chaired and coached her local JDRF Ride team for many years. Lauren has worked as an elementary school computer teacher and now works at The Children's Diabetes Foundation at Denver as the IT Manager.
Sarah Loebner, age 18, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 9 1/2 in 2002. She attended her first CWD Friends For Life conference exactly a month later, and has returned every year since. She is a student at Scripps College focusing on pre-med studies. Her favorite pastimes are playing tennis and soccer, laughing hysterically, and singing. Sarah is incredibly excited to be a member of the CWD staff that gave her so much support, love, and confidence as a younger CWD participant, and she can't wait for this year's conference to start!
Carolyn Meredith is mom to Chelsea, Jeremy, and Bailey and wife to Rich. Jeremy was diagnosed with diabetes in May 2000 at the age of 6. He started on an insulin pump in October 2002. Carolyn and her family attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and have been involved with CWD ever since. They have also attended several regional conferences. When not running mom's taxi service, Carolyn works in the office at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida. She enjoys meeting and sharing with other CWD families.
Chelsea Meredith, age 20, has grown up around diabetes for the past eleven years; her brother Jeremy was diagnosed in 2000. She attended her first Friends for Life conference with her family in 2003 and has been to countless CWD events since that time. She loves kids and is a dance and acrobatics teacher for young children. Chelsea attends the University of South Florida St. Petersburg where she is studying history and philosophy as an Honors student. She is also an aerialist intending to run away with the circus, after college, of course! She spends all of her free time hanging from the rafters on a trapeze.
Jesse Nagel, 19, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 9 1/2 years old. He is a sophomore at the State University of NY at Buffalo with a major in nursing. Jesse is a member of the crew team and is a senator for the Resident Hall Association. He has traveled to Washington, DC as an advocate with the JDRF Children's Congress and the ADA Call to Congress, and will continue meeting with his representatives until a cure is found. He has attended every FFL Orlando since 2003 as part of the elementary, tween, and teen groups. Jesse is very excited to officially become part of the FFL staff.
Chris Opdenaker is mom to Hannah and Rachael and wife to Jim. Hannah was diagnosed with diabetes in 1999 at age 3. The Opdenakers first became involved with CWD in 2001 -- they have printed all of the conference t-shirts ever since 2001! Chris states that CWD has been a blessing for her family from day one and continues to be each year. Chris has also been involved in ADA walks and several local pump support programs for children and parents. She is employed as a digital press operator for an advertising company.
Kevin Orsillo currently attends Miami-Dade College. He plays drums in a rock band and also works part time. Kevin's father has had type 1 diabetes for 34 years and Kevin helps with his daily care. This is Kevin's second year of volunteering at Friend For Life. Kevin enjoys water sports and spends time boating in the Florida Keys.
Melissa Pawlowski is a public relations major at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age four. Melissa has three siblings, Sarah, Kayla and Matthew. Matthew also has type 1 diabetes. Melissa enjoys attending Friends For Life Conferences and has been attending since 2003 with her family. Melissa loves working with CWD kids and is glad to be part of the CWD staff.
Kara Podjasek was diagnosed with diabetes at age eight, and her family has been involved with CWD and CWD conferences since then. She is in the honors nursing program at Loyola University Chicago, and one day hopes to become a CDE. In addition, Kara enjoys playing lacrosse, working out, and volunteering in the community. Kara's mom, Mary Podjasek, is the President of the Diabetes Scholars Foundation. Kara loves helping out and seeing her friends every year at CWD Conferences.
Michelle Rago is a CWD Mom of two children with diabetes She graduated from Harvard University (magna cum laude) where she received the Ben Teel Memorial Prize for Public Service. She graduated from Columbia University School of Law, where she represented children in foster care and received a Charles Evans Hughes Fellowship for public service. Michelle's son Trent was diagnosed in 2000 at age 4. Due to the diagnosis, Trent's daycare would not accept him back. Since then, Michelle has become well versed in the changing laws with relation to diabetes and school, insurance coverage, and discrimination on account of diabetes. She is active with the American Diabetes Association Legal Advocacy group. Michelle has recently become an expert on monogenic diabetes, after it was discovered that her adopted daughter Maya had monogenic, not Type 1, diabetes. (Michelle's family adopted Maya from foster care after hearing about her at a CWD conference.) Michelle is also mom to Michela and husband to Tim, both of whom actively participate in diabetes care at home. For her work with CWD families, Michelle was awarded the Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award in 2006.
Tracey Smith is mom to Kylee and Joshua, and they live in Suwanee, Georgia. Joshua was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2003 at the age of three. With all of the overwhelming information given to her as a newly diagnosed mom, Tracey found comfort in the Children with Diabetes website. In 2004, the entire Smith family including mimi, Betty Parker, attended their first Friends For Life conference in Los Angeles, California. That was all it took to realize that this is where her family needed to be every summer to make life a little easier on everyone. Tracy has since volunteered at every Friends for Life conference. She is a stay at home mom who volunteers in the school and with the local recreational sports that her kids are involved with. The Smith family has also been involved with their local JDRF chapter.
Wendy Smits is a sophomore nursing student at the University of South Carolina. She and her family attended their first CWD event in 2003, two years after her younger sister, Caroline, was diagnosed with diabetes. Wendy loves working with children and is excited to be working with the elementary kids this year.
Georgia Spiropoulos is Alexa's Mom. Alexa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 14 months old. Over the past 12 years, Georgia and her husband have watched the diabetes at every developmental stage of Alexa's life. Their most important lesson in this journey was realizing "Alexa will learn how to deal with her diabetes from you." That light bulb moment changed their lives and their advocacy work began. Georgia's volunteer efforts include JDRF fundraising, government advocacy and outreach. She volunteers at the local children's hospital helping newly diagnosed children and their families understand the road ahead. She created outreach programs of support and information sharing within the community. Georgia states, "the feeling of isolation can be overwhelming and that is what I am trying to help families minimize. We love this Friends for Life conference; this will be our third year. This is the week Alexa feels normal and does not have to explain to anyone why she is poking her finger."
Jenny Vandevelde lives in San Diego, CA and is a student at San Diego State University, double majoring in Outdoor Recreation and Social Work. Jenny plans to be a Pediatric CDE, adventure tour guide, and/or soccer coach. She loves all sports and is currently addicted to snowboarding -- and yes it does snow in southern California. Jenny has biked through Death Valley twice for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The first ride included 110 degree temperatures and the second ride brought 60 mph headwinds for about 5 hours. In October 2008, she ran as one of the 25 Medtronic Global Heroes in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Both of her pump sites went bad and her timing chip malfunctioned, but despite those little disasters, she had a great time. Last summer Jenny attended her first Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association (DESA) Conference in Toronto as an Insulindependence intern. In her free time she plays soccer, beach soccer, hockey, and basketball. She also volunteers at Camp Wana Kura in Santee, CA every summer.
Cindy Webb, aka Grandma Cindy, attended her first CWD conference in July 2003. Just three months prior, in March 2003, her oldest granddaughter, Ashley, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three. When a friend emailed her the CWD website, Cindy and family immediately registered for the 2003 Orlando conference and took the opportunity to connect with other CWD families. Their goal was to meet others who were going through what they were, while learning all they could about diabetes and how to deal with all the areas of life and family it affects. They have been to every Friends for Life conference and many CWD regional events since 2003. As secondary caregiver for Ashley, Grandma Cindy is directly involved with Ashley's medical care and diabetes management. An accountant by trade, Grandma Cindy has always been interested in the medical field and is currently taking pre-Nursing courses.
Kindergarten, Pre-K and Childcare
Mary Babin, RN, BSN, CDE is one of the first clinical employees at Animas Corporation and the first coordinator of childcare for the little ones at the CWD conferences. Mary leads a team of certified diabetes educators providing childcare in a safe environment for kids under age six 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 blood glucose management. As National Director of Clinical Services at Animas Corporation, she is responsible for overseeing diabetes and pump educators throughout the US. Mary has devoted her career to the world of medicine. As a graduate of Eastern University and Presbyterian School of Nursing, Mary has been in intensive care nursing for over 25 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for 15. This busy mom and devoted professional has been involved with CWD since 2001. You can spot her at the conferences-she’s the one with the trail of kids behind her!
Intissar Ben Halim, MSS, is mom to Maryam, Zakariyya, Abdalla, and Yaseen, and wife to Nabil. She and her family been involved with CWD conferences since 2004. She enjoys meeting other CWD parents and families and sharing stories and challenges, especially now that she has two teens. She and her family reside in King-of-Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Devin Jackson is 21 years old and a nursing major at George Mason University. Devin was diagnosed with diabetes at 17 months old and has been actively raising awareness and fighting for a cure ever since. She has been attending CWD conferences since she was 10 and has enjoyed meeting and helping other kids with diabetes. Devin enjoys roller coasters, the beach, and hanging out with friends and family.
Pam Loebner is a California public elementary school teacher who has worked in both special education and regular education classrooms for 25 years. Since becoming a CWD mom, Pam has assisted the district nurse with education for families and teachers when newly diagnosed or newly enrolled students arrive. While always working as an advocate for student needs, Pam focuses on ensuring equal access to all school activities for children with diabetes. Pam discovered the CWD website 30 minutes after her daughter's diagnosis in June 2002 when Sarah was 9 1/2. Pam and her family haven't missed a CWD conference since.
Midge McBryant is grandma to Jeremy (dx'd 5/2000), Chelsea and Bailey. She lives in St. Petersburg, FL and works in a law firm as a paralegal. Midge has been attending Friends for Life conferences since 2003. She enjoys working with children and is a huge Tampa Bay Rays fan!
Stacey Nagel was born, raised and still lives by the beach in Belle Harbor, New York. Married to Scott, they have three children: Allison, Daniel and Jesse. She is a retired special education teacher of developmentally delayed preschoolers. Jesse was diagnosed in December 2001 when he was 9 years old. While sitting in the hospital, in the wee hours of the night, Stacey discovered the CWD website. After a year of emailing her "imaginary friends," she decided in 2003 that it was time to attend a "Friends for Life" conference. Not one to just sit back and do nothing, she started volunteering at her very first conference, and put Scott to work with the teens in 2006. Jesse has also gotten caught up in the CWD fever by joining the "Youth Faculty."
Lisa Pitt, a CWD mom to four girls, has been attending conferences since Ashley was diagnosed at age 3 in 2003. Thanks to CWD's thorough education, before the very next conference, Ashley was pumping at age 4. Two of Lisa's other daughters were tested through TrialNet (met through CWD) and found her middle child with 1 of 3 antibodies that have been identified in diabetes. Lisa has been a cardiac night nurse for the last 10 years. She believes constant education is key to managing a chronic illness.
Brandy Schmidt is Jeff's wife (Schmidty to the teens) and mother of two, Brandon, dx'd in 1997, and Rhiannon, dx'd 2009. When Brandon was diagnosed, Brandy came home from the hospital and found CWD on the first search. She has been addicted to CWD since then. She has been an advocate for all military families dealing with diabetes. She helped implement a gluten free policy in San Diego county public schools when Brandon was diagnosed with celiac in 2005. She has been dubbed the "Gluten Free Police" at conferences. Brandy now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, four dogs and a bearded dragon!
Rebecca Schmidt is a mother of two, an Occupational Therapist and a Marine Corps wife of 21 years to Robert (who works with the teens). Just three days after a move in 2002, her 5 year old son (now 14) was diagnosed with type 1. Rebecca's mission became clear: make a difference in her child's school system and advocate for her son and other military families with diabetes. The Schmidts attended their first FFL conference in 2003 and immediately felt the warmth and connection of everyone they cam into contact with. Rebecca states, "I knew we had to be a part of the most fantastic organization out there for families of kids with diabetes and have enjoyed being a part of it ever since our fist conference."
Catherine Schulz lives in Texas with her husband Harry and their six children. She was doing okay managing six kids – even with four-month-old twins – when diabetes struck her three-year-old daughter Emma and changed the family dynamic forever. She is currently attending school in pursuit of a psychology degree in the hopes that she might one day help other families facing the struggles that come up when a family member is diagnosed with a chronic illness. Formerly a neat freak with a penchant for perfect linen closets and sparkling baseboards, Catherine's new goal in life is to become a model of the laid back mom who simply manages the chaos with as cheerful an attitude as possible. She loves everything about the CWD conferences, but is particularly fond of the fact that it is four days filled with children and poolside friends, but completely lacking in dishes and laundry.
Heidi Shell resides in Maryland with her husband and their two cats. This is her 6th Friends for Life conference and the first spent volunteering as staff with the children's program. She has had diabetes since age 17 and is currently working towards a nursing degree. In her spare time, Heidi writes a diabetes blog.
Sasha Ullman is 21 years old and a Hospitality Management major in Orlando at UCF. Her brother Zack, 23, has had type 1 diabetes since he was 15 months old. She has been supporting him and her family by going to CWD conferences since they began. Sasha loves to cook and inspire her friends to get in the kitchen, and hopes to own a bed and breakfast one day!
Friends for Life 2011 Conference and Expo Introduction - Registration - Childcare Form - FAQs - Sponsors - Exhibitors - Venue Map Faculty - Youth Faculty - CWD Staff - Grandparents Faculty - Sports Central Staff Teen Driving Clinic - Diabetes Scholars Foundation Golf Fundraiser Schedule: Parents & Adults - Youth - Focus Groups FFL Reports from 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001
Last Updated: Sunday May 15, 2011 19:57:12
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