advertisement
 

  Back to Conferences 2009 Friends for Life Conference Report

Friends for Life 2009 Logo

It was a very hot and muggy week in Orlando – typical for mid-July. But the smiles and hugs were warm and genuine as old friends reconnected and new friends became treasured friends at the tenth anniversary of CWD's Friends for Life conference. Over three thousand people from nearly every state in the U.S. and a dozen countries traveled to Orlando, Florida, for this event, which was held from July 7-12 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.

Families began gathering at the hotel over the July 4th holiday weekend. By Tuesday, nearly everyone was on site, sporting t-shirts and tank tops from previous Friends for Life and CWD conferences as well as this year's bright orange Friends for Life shirts and Team CWD tanks with the big CWD smiley on the front. CWD families spent the first few days exploring the Disney theme parks and water parks – and also exploring the local outlet shopping malls! Monday was move-in day for the registration team, headed by Mike Schurig and his 24-foot UHaul containing all of our conference materials and Sports Central supplies! Many thanks to the registration and moving team for a job well done ... and two trips to the storage center! And many thanks to our young adults and older teens for taking the day off to help with the move-in instead of having a 'play day!'

There were about 1,000 first timers this year, representing families from across the U.S. and internationally. The First-Timers all wore ribbons on their name badges so that we could find them easily and welcome them! The First-Timers represented about a third of our conference participants this year. They had some very special activities to help them meet each other and feel more at home at the Friends for Life conference. First Timer Hospitality staff Nabil Elarbi, Katie Daugherty, Lauren Lanning, and Tom Karlya did a great job at making everyone feel welcome. Thank you as well to the many 'old timers' who volunteered their time, experience, and hugs to the first timers hospitality area which was open Tuesday through Thursday. Hats off to Sanofi-Aventis for sponsoring the First-Timers reception and activities.

This year, the Exhibit Hall was back in its previous home -- Veracruz B and C, which is a wonderfully spacious area designed specifically for exhibits and large crowds. While the exhibit hall was very crowded on Wednesday evening at the gala opening reception sponsored by Roche Diagnostics (which was very fun and had very yummy food), on Thursday and Friday there was adequate elbow room to roam around and adequate time to ask questions of those sponsors and exhibitors who bring the products that our CWD families use. The Exhibit Hall was also home to the Quilt for Life this year. Over 700 quilt panels were displayed.

Many VIPs were on hand throughout the conference to meet and inspire the kids and families, including USA Triathlete Jay Hewitt, Miss America 1999 Nicole Johnson, Team Type 1, Mr. USA Doug Burns, runner/biker Jimmy Dodson, Distance Swimmer Jen Alexander, climber Sebastien Sasseville. There also were some inspiring young adults with type 1 diabetes who shared their ideas, experiences, and energy with our young attendees. And George Canyon. George is Canada's Country Music Entertainer of the Year and, despite his tremendously busy schedule, he made the time to join Friends for Life for several days. The kids loved meeting all of these very special people.

Sports Central was back in fine form this year! Sponsored by Novo Nordisk, Sports Central provided a place for kids and adults alike to get some exercise playing basketball, volleyball, or simply working out on the mats. Sports Central offered Open Gym on Monday evening through Friday evening, and there were specific times for the kids to spend with the athletes and sports activities on Thursday and Friday during sessions. To complement the Sports Central activities, Novo Nordisk also sponsored the 7th Annual CWD Family Fun Run – a once-around the Coronado Springs lake before breakfast on Thursday.

On Saturday, about 1,500 met the Disney princes and princesses for breakfast at the Coronado Springs Resort, and then headed over to the Magic Kingdom Theme Park for a day of fun. It was a brutally hot day, and we all did our best to duck into the air conditioning as often as possible and stay hydrated. It was quite 'magical' seeing all of the orange Friends for Life shirts throughout the park all day!

This year's Friends for Life was supported by the efforts, energies, and plain old elbow grease of about 150 volunteers. These volunteers range from CWD staff who leave their regular jobs and give their time to this conference for a full week to first timers who volunteer a couple of hours helping here and there, learning the ropes. And everything in between. These people hold the conference together, watch over your children, monitor sessions, and in general, move everything forward in a very special way. We all owe them many, many thanks for their partnership.

Finally – our deepest thanks to the sponsors and partners who supported this conference and who each year allow us to make it bigger and better: Novo Nordisk, LifeScan, Roche Diagnostics, Sanofi-Aventis, Abbott Diabetes Care, Eli Lilly and Company, Medtronic Diabetes, Animas Corporation, Insulet Corporation, Unomedical, the American Diabetes Association, Dex4, DexCom, the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. On behalf of the thousands of people you touched at Friends for Life, we are so grateful for your friendship and support.

 

Photo - Click for larger image
Pumpy cut the ribbon to open the Exhibit Hall on Wednesday evening and then posed for photos in the Roche Diagnostics booth
[ medium | large | full ]

Photo - Click for larger image
Race car driver Charlie Kimball signed autographs and posed for photos in the Novo Nordisk booth
[ medium | large | full ]

Photo - Click for larger image
Dr. Norma Kenyon from the DRI was one of many wonderful faculty members who shared their knowledge and experience with CWD families
[ medium | large | full ]

Photo - Click for larger image
PJ the dog with diabetes was a big hit (yes, PJs in there, along with Dr. Chuck and Dr. Ashley)
[ medium | large | full ]

Photo - Click for larger image
Ken, Adam, Marissa and Marwa enjoyed the Magic Kingdom after a week of working as Youth Faculty
[ medium | large | full ]

Photo - Click for larger image
Saturday was Magic Kingdom day, where families wore their orange Friends for Life t-shirt -- making it easy for us to find each other
[ medium | large | full ]

[ Report Intro | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Comments | Elementary Groups | Sponsors & Partners | More Photos | Photo Album | Event Announcement ]



                 
  Home Return to Top

Last Updated: Friday March 28, 2014 12:47:49
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2015. Comments and Feedback.