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  Back to 2015 Conference CWD Staff at Friends for Life 2015

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Jeff Hitchcock is the creator, editor, webmaster 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. He worked in defense related industries until 1995, when he started a small Internet company and launched Children with Diabetes. He subsequently worked at LEXIS-NEXIS and Pearson plc on Internet initiatives, and now works full time bringing Children with Diabetes to you.

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A finicky connoisseur of hotel meeting space, cappuccino, and kid-friendly cheese and fruit platters, Laura Billetdeaux is CWD's VP of Education and Programs. Since 2000, Laura has organized every single CWD conference, always keeping in mind the true purpose of CWD - 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 husband Neal, who graciously and energetically assists with the conference teen programs. They are parents of Sam and Carolyn who both serve as youth faculty at CWD conferences as time allows.

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Jim Vail was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1986 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 9 years all the while wrestling with the unpredictability of short and intermediate acting insulin. After finally going on a pump in October of 2001 and 'getting his life back,' Jim began volunteering at CWD in the teen program where he quickly became one of the Program Coordinators. He's worn, tested or personally used virtually every product represented in the Exhibit Hall. Jim serves as the Director of Development and Communications for CWD.

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Doris Chong, mom to teen Caitlyn, has participated in Friends for Life conferences for the past three years. Doris plays in a bagpipe band and can be found playing for St. Patrick's Day parades during the month of March. She is also 'mom' to three dogs that she loves to spoil rotten. Doris currently works for the Department of Homeland Security, and she is volunteering once again with the CWD FFL Staff in Orlando.

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Randy Chong, dad to teen Caitlyn, has also participated in three FFL conferences. He recently retired after 30 years in law enforcement, and now enjoys fishing, lobstering, and scalloping. He also spends time gardening, and loves growing hot peppers! Randy is volunteering with the CWD FFL Staff once again this year.

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Linda Clapp RN, BSN, CDE, is a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator and is currently working as an educator for Novo Nordisk. Linda has been a CDE for 15 years and specialized in pump therapy prior to working with Novo Nordisk. Linda was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 and has been on pump therapy for over 30 years. She is passionate about education and motivating kids and adults to take charge of their diabetes. Linda has been involved with CWD for many years working in childcare. She is married and has two teenagers.

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Nabil Elarbi, father of four wonderful children, resides in King of Prussia, PA. He became involved with diabetes in December 2003, when his daughter Maryam was diagnosed with diabetes at age 10. He spent his first night at the hospital searching the internet for information on his laptop and stumbled onto the CWD website. It was then that he decided that his family was going to attend the 2004 Friends for Life conference in California. The entire family has been hooked ever since and look forward to it as the highlight of their year. Nabil has always had a special touch working with youth and young adults. He enjoys reading, traveling, and promoting health education in under-served communities. Nabil owns a small Healthcare IT consulting firm.

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Virginia (Ginny) Gidi, DrPH, first started attending CWD events in 2008 when she was working with Johnson & Johnson's Diabetes Care Franchise. She found working with CWD quickly became the best part of her job because of the amazing people who want to make the world a better place for kids and families living with diabetes. Now she's a friend for life! Ginny lives in the Washington, DC area and is currently working on alcohol and health policy.

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Chris Grant, husband of Sarah and dad to Senie and Christopher, was diagnosed with type 1 at age 23. He is a retired Navy Nuclear Submarine Reactor Operator and currently works as a Reliability Engineer for Florida Power & Light. A Jacksonville native, Chris enjoys all water sports, especially kitesurfing, scuba diving, and sailing. He and Sarah have been married 17 years, which Sarah points out is 'the best and hardest-earned thing about us!' They are excited about volunteering together at FFL!


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Sarah Grant is a self-described math, computer and tech geek, who lives in south Florida and works as a corporate controller and CFO. She attended her first FFL conference in 2006 after her daughter Senie was diagnosed with T1. Sarah was no stranger to T1, though. She met her husband, Chris, in Navy Nuclear Electronics Technician School, and he was diagnosed with type 1 shortly after that. Sarah loves spending time with her family, her three Frenchies, the beach, sunshine, reading, running, and lifting weights. This is her first year volunteering as CWD Staff, and she's thrilled to meet everyone at Registration!


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Ashley Head is a CWD dad on both sides of the Atlantic – at Friends for Life Orlando and Friends for Life UK! Ash has been a Trade Show Professional for the last 30+ years, specializing in international event logistics; he has coordinated shows all over the world. Ash also serves on the Challenge Events Committee for the JDRF UK. He is married to Shayne, and dad to 20-year-old Phoebe, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2001. He is also dad to Jake, age 26.

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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 CWD web site, helps to manage the CWD Forums, and helps out in countless ways at CWD's conferences.

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Tom Karlya, Vice President of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, is known throughout the diabetes community as Diabetes Dad. He's the creator/author of www.diabetesdad.org; a daily syndicated column. His daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed at age 2 in 1992. In 2009, his son Rob was also diagnosed, at age 13. Tom has been introduced to the NY State Capitol, testified in Washington, D.C., and has lectured globally about being a DiabetesDad. With Kim May, a dMom from Texas, he created the website and FB page; www.GetDiabetesRight.org, a grassroots effort spreading awareness about the detection/understanding of t1 diabetes. He received numerous commendations for his work in the Diabetes Community from Hurricane Katrina to advocacy initiatives. Tom was awarded The Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award from CWD in 2008; among many other awards from groups and organizations. For 12 years, as an actor, he starred in the New York Production of Tony 'N Tina's Wedding and also at The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., in Summer of the 17th Doll. His film, lbs., was at the Sundance Film Festival, and he appeared in Unsolved Mysteries, Spin City, The Cosby Show, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, America's Most Wanted, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and numerous commercials. He won 13 Telly Awards, a FREDDIE Award, and was nominated for an Emmy Award while Executive Producer of dLife on CNBC. His mantra; just "Don't do Nothing", is well known throughout the diabetes community. Tom will tell you that above everything else, he's just a CWD Dad.

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Scott Kyllo lives in British Columbia, Canada. He has two children, Alyssa (23) and Chad (21). Their path along the diabetes road started in 1996 when his son, Chad, then age 2 was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when they were residing in Bahrain in the Middle East. The World Wide Web had just arrived in Bahrain and it brought to the Kyllo's the safety of the CWD family. Two years later, when life was becoming somewhat comfortable and routine, Alyssa, then age 7, was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Chad was also diagnosed with celiac disease in 2001. The family attended their first Friends For Life conference in 2002. Getting to meet the CWDers in person was like Christmas in July! Scott is a Chief Information Officer by day and an Aircraft Engineer by night maintaining a Piper Cherokee and a Mooney. These skills and his "Macgyver" qualities keep him running at the CWD conferences as our Information Technology and Audio Visual support person. He is a strong advocate of CWD conferences and believes anyone with a connection to diabetes should attend at least one ... although warns that the conferences are much like potato chips ... it's hard to stop at just one!

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Julia Mattingly is mom to 19 year old Hannah and 17 year old Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 months and started pumping when he was 3. Julia, Ed, and the kids have been to 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 a "Hi Y'All!" Julia loves coordinating registration and being able to meet and talk to everyone who walks in the door. Her best CWD 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.

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Betty Parker, a CWD grandma who lives in Manning, South Carolina, has been coming to Friends for Life conferences since 2004. She has four grandchildren, including Joshua who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2003. Betty has also attended three regional conferences in Marco Island and the Quilt for Life display in Washington D.C. Betty enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, playing tennis, exercising, reading and traveling. She is very happy to volunteer with the registration staff this year.

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Rebecca Schmidt is mom to Zachary who is 18 and now a freshman in college (diagnosed in 2002 at age 5), Kathlynn age 14, and wife to Robert Schmidt who is now a college sophomore. The family attended their first FFL conference in 2003 and has been hooked ever since, missing only a couple of conferences due to their military life. Rebecca knew instantly that she found a second family and support system like no other. Rebecca continues to work as an Occupational Therapist in Okaloosa County Schools in the panhandle of Florida.

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Robert Schmidt is dad to Zachary who is 18 (diagnosed in 2002 at age 5) and Kathlynn age 14 and husband to Rebecca Schmidt. They attended their first conference in 2003 and have been coming ever since, missing only a couple thanks to the demands of the military. Robert credits CWD for making his son's life with diabetes a much easier one. After retiring from the Marines in 2014, Robert has just completed his freshman year at Northwest Florida State College and is pursuing a B.S. degree in Information Technology. This fall he looks forward to carpooling to college with his son Zachary; though the feeling is not mutual.

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Kristen Seiz, MS, RD, CLC, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 9. Inspired at a young age by her diabetes, she pursued a career to become a dietitian and studied for her Masters degree at D'Youville College in Buffalo, NY. She lives and works in Buffalo as a Nutritionist at a Catholic Charities WIC Office. Upon attending her first CWD Conference in 2011, she fell in love with the people and relationships she formed and was determined to become a part of it. This is the first year Kristen will be a part of the CWD staff and she is looking forward to working with the kids, seeing old friends and meeting many more!

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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.

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Jim Stroud, CRNA, MSNA, is first and foremost a servant of his wife, Joanne. He is also Dad to Ben, diagnosed at age 10 in 1998. Jim was thrilled to coach the CWD Western Hemisphere Soccer Team on its tour of Italy in 2004. When not doing whatever Joanne, Jeff, Laura, and everyone else listed above tell him to do, Jim gives anesthesia and is an adjunct professor of Nurse Anesthesia in San Diego, CA.

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Joanne Stroud, MHA, FACHE, is first and foremost a CWD Mom. Her son Ben was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of ten and CWD quickly became their lifeline. She attended her first conference in 2003 and instantly became hooked, telling Laura she'd do anything (within reason of course!) she could to assist CWD. Both Ben and his brother James are now 'giving back' as CWD volunteers. When not hanging with her FFLs, Joanne is an administrator for a home health agency. She and Jim, a CRNA, have one other son, Kyle who lives in Portland, OR with his fiancée Sarah.

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Gwen Sutherland is mum to Jamie (29), Gemma (28), Sarah (26) and Rebekah (19) dx'd 10 August 1998. She attended her first CWD Conference in 2010 with husband, David, and Rebekah and they have not missed one since. Gwen and Rebekah attended FFL Orlando in July 2013 which was THE most amazing experience. Gwen is an avid supporter of JDRF, organising several fund raising events along with Rebekah, and has been a member of the Ball Committee in Aberdeen since 2006 which has raised nearly £1million since the first Ball in 2004! She and David are looking forward to volunteering this year at both the Orlando and UK Conferences.

  Friends for Life 2015 Conference and Expo  
  Introduction - Registration - Sponsors - Exhibitors - Convention Center Map (PDF)  
  Faculty - Youth Faculty - Grandparents Faculty - CWD Staff - Sports Central Staff - Nightscout Faculty - Special Guests  
  Schedule: Parents and Adults - Youth - Nightscout Workshop  
  Childcare Form (PDF) - FAQs - Disney's MyMagic+ Checklist (Important)  
  Reports from 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001  



                 
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Last Updated: Wednesday June 03, 2015 23:21:32
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