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  Back to 2004 Conference Report Friends for Life 2004

Friends for Life: LA 2004 - Thursday

7:30 a.m. sharp ... ready, set, GO! Joe Romano blew the whistle, and the runners were off on the second annual CWD Foundation Fun Run, sponsored by Novo Nordisk. The once-around-the-hotel-complex route was approximately 3/4 of a mile long, and almost 200 people crossed the finish line by 8:00 when the 'walking crew' brought up the rear! During breakfast, Joe Romano and Stephanie Rein from Novo Nordisk handed out medals to all kids who participated. Every child was individually introduced and they all received a huge round of applause from appreciative moms and dads. The winner? Everyone! Those who exercised, those who watched all the fun ... and ultimately, the CWD Foundation which received proceeds from runner sponsorships.

Betty Brackenridge opened the Friends for Life 2004 program with a keynote presentation entitled "Defining a Healthy Life." As always, Betty's perspective was refreshing and very positive, and parents left her session feeling very optimistic about life with diabetes. Betty has participated in nearly every CWD conference; she has a true connection with our moms and dads. She also met later for a discussion group with single parents, and she co-presented a session with Dr. Bob Bulgarelli on Stress Management.

Thursday's other educational sessions included a presentation by Dr. Luca Inverardi and Ken Bernstein from the Diabetes Research Institute on Turning Research Into Reality. Rhall Pope led a session about cutting-edge insulin pump technology, while Kim Kelly presented information about oral medications for type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as a session about interpreting the numbers on the lab values our kids receive yearly. For newly-diagnosed families, basic information about carb-counting was presented by Linda Cooper, and for new pumpers, Natalie Bellini discussed how to select an infusion set, while John Walsh presented Introduction to Pumping Insulin.

Psychologist and ADA President-Elect Richard Rubin led a session called Overcoming Diabetes Overwhelmus, which was rated 'the best session' of the conference by many CWD newcomers who came specifically to hear Dr. Rubin speak on this topic. Dr. Rubin has participated as a speaker at every single CWD conference, and his commitment to CWD families is incredible. He is a CWD dad himself and attended the conference with son Stefan, who also served on the faculty with the young adult group.

Later in the afternoon on Thursday, Dr. Paul Chous led a session called Healthy Eyes, which he presented in conjunction with free retinal screenings for all children with diabetes during the conference. Many thanks to Kowa for providing the equipment necessary for screening and to Dr. Chous and his associates for generously donating their time.

CDE Natalie Bellini took time off from leading the teen track to talk with parents about What Are Your Kids Scared About? Natalie's honesty and frankness in this discussion was an eye-opener for many parents, who commented that they appreciated her candid manner during the session (and during the conference).

Finally, CWD Founder and President Jeff Hitchcock moderated a panel discussion entitled Beam Me Up, Scotty. This session examined the new technology being developed with regard to continuous glucose monitoring. And CWD parents Tom Karlya, Michelle Rago, Lauren Lanning, Lee Shekter, and Sonia Cooper led a panel discussion about juggling all the responsibilities of parenting, working, and taking care of a family with diabetes. Who better to lead the discussion than experts who do this every day?

Kids and Teens had sessions just for them, offering opportunities for learning and fun while parents attended their own sessions. Many thanks to Natalie Bellini for organizing the teen track for this conference. Her dedication to our kids and teens is tremendous, and we have no idea how she does what she does on so little sleep! Presenters for the teen group on Thursday included Bob Bulgarelli, Rick Philbin and Stefan Rubin (Peer Pressure) and Dr. Paul Chous (Healthy Eyes). Many thanks to IDYA teen leaders Carolyn and Sam Billetdeaux for kicking off the teen sessions with getting-to-know-you ice breakers. That 9:00 a.m. session is never easy! Some of the teen girls ended the day on Thursday with an extremely fun Skin Care and Makeup session with 1999 Miss America Nicole Johnson Baker sponsored by Animas Corporation, while others participated in a martial arts demonstration with black belts Fran Ott and Marc Blatstein.

A huge thank you also goes to Melissa Ringley and Mike Schurig who organized most of the sessions and activities for the school-age group! There were over 100 school aged participants this year (ages 7-11), and it was quite a challenge keeping everyone interested and paying attention (next year, we hope to further separate the group by age). Thanks to our faculty and teen volunteers (Lianna Stroster, Kelsey Martin) who kept things interesting and moving forward in all the children's sessions. Also, many thanks to the parents who helped out. It's that extra pair of hands that often makes the difference with an activity going smoothly! Prima Ballerina Zippora Karz rounded out the day with a special session for youngsters interested in dancing during the Banquet Thursday evening.

Pilot Michael Hunter presented the keynote during lunch on Thursday, sponsored by Roche Diagnostics. Michael showed extraordinary slides and video of his piloting and racing feats - they were incredible. He also stayed through lunch to meet kids and sign autographs.

Thursday evening, 700 people came together under the outdoor tent for the 5th annual Family and Friends Banquet, sponsored by LifeScan and Novo Nordisk. Miss America Nicole Johnson-Baker gave a very moving keynote, followed by two very emotional multi-media presentations depicting the last five years of CWD conferences. Laura Billetdeaux was surprised and moved to tears by both the slide presentation and an award honoring her by the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

Then it was Laura's turn to thank the sponsors. With the help of DidgeriDrew from Brother, CWD awarded handmade didgeridoos to each of the 12 conference sponsors. Each sponsor was introduced and came up on stage to try their expertise at making sound come from the didgeridoo. Hamish Richardson from Brother facilitated these attempts ... and we actually found some of our sponsors to be quite 'musical!' All in all, it was hilarious, great fun, and the sponsors were very good sports about trying their skill on stage in front of all those people!

As part of the awards ceremony, Laura presented the IDYA sponsorship award to Joe Romano from Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk has funded the growth of the International Diabetes Youth Ambassador program for the last two years, and has enabled CWD teens to reach out to other children and teens across the globe. In addition to supporting the internet IDYA outreach program on the CWD website, sponsorship dollars have been used to support the IDYA presence at CWD conferences and other national and international events. Novo Nordisk was pleased to sponsor the IDYA soccer team that traveled to Italy to participate in the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association conference last March.

The second annual Natalie Bellini Teen Choice Award was presented to Audrey Finkelstein, Vice President of Marketing and Clinical Services at Animas Corporation. Laura noted that Audrey was a person who 'never says no' when it comes to supporting CWD teens and kids. She always finds a way to make requests happen, whether they are large (a big sponsorship) or small (rental of a snow cone machine for sugar free snow cones at the teen booth). And just as importantly, Audrey's behind-the-scenes support of teen programming at conferences has allowed this portion of CWD conferences to grow and be successful year after year.

After the sponsor presentations, the band BROTHER, led by Hamish Richardson who has type 1 diabetes, along with Angus Richardson and Rick Kurek, entertained the guests with their incredible music, featuring the didgeridoo and bag pipes. Zippora Karz joined Hamish on stage, and then danced with some of the kids who had practiced with her earlier in the day. Afterwards, the band posed for pictures and autographs with kids and teens.

The evening ended with the Teen Dance, sponsored by Unomedical a/s, at the Roof Garden on the top floor of the Sheraton. DJ Xanthin from Awesome Entertainment provided the music for about 100 teens, who enjoyed dancing, ice cream, and having some fun down time with their buddies. Many thanks to the dance chaperones coordinated by CWD mom Mary Podjasek.

The first full day of the conference started with a race whistle at 7:30 a.m. and ended with the stroke of midnight on the dance floor ... quite a full day for our CWD families!

 
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Runners race off after Joe Romano's whistle
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And the winner is Grant
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Richard Rubin never misses a run
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Some of the teens were a bit melodramatic at the finish
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The Schmidt family raised the most money in donations for the Fun Run
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Everyone received an award for running, but some kids were a bit reluctant
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Kim Kelly's sessions were universally praised
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Dr. Bruce Buckingham spoke about continuous glucose sensing to a packed house
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Natalie Bellini makes a point during one of her many sessions
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John Walsh spoke about pump therapy in a room with a spectacular view
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Islet transplant recipients Gary Kleiman and Ken Bernstein shared their experiences with CWD families
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Fives years' of collages, dating to the first CWD conference in 2000, bring back memories for some CWD teens
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Betty Brackenridge shared her wisdom during the keynote address
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Acrobatic pilot Michael Hunter spoke at lunch
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Rhall Pope spoke about the path to intelligent insulin pumps
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Luca Inverardi from the DRI explained current diabetes cure research
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Families gathered in the tent for the banquet Thursday evening
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Audrey Finkelstein receives the Natalie Bellini Teen Choice Award for her enormous support for CWD
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Tom Karlya gives the didge a try ...
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... while Ernie Costello got the nod from Hamish
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Selling raffle tickets for a signed didge won by ...
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... Harry's dad Jim
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Hamish playing the didge
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Rhiannon joined the band on stage
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Teens danced the night away on the top floor with a great view of LA
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Erin and Kelsey show the guys how it's done
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Taking a break at the dance
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Slow dancing with new friends and old
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Last Updated: Friday January 07, 2005 16:57:10
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