1995 to 1996
children with DIABETES launched in June 1995 with the goals of helping Marissa Hitchcock meet other kids who had diabetes and of sharing the experiences of her parents, Jeff and Brenda.
The earliest recorded "What's New" page, which summarized what was added to the site in the previous week, was published on July 23, 1995. The "What's New" has been published and sent as an email every week since.
In its first weeks and months, CWD consisted of Marissa's story, information and advice from Jeff and Brenda Hitchcock, listings of local ADA and JDRF chapters, reviews of books and products, some diabetes information, and links to other diabetes web sites. The total site had perhaps 100 web pages.
In the fall of 1995, the Ask the Diabetes Team section was added in response to Jeff Hitchcock receiving emails asking him for medical advice. As of September 2015, the "Diabetes Team" has answered over 35,000 questions, and over 19,000 of those answers are online. The "Ask the Diabetes Team" section of CWD is a unique and unrivaled medical information resource.
The chat rooms were added in the fall of 1996 and quickly grew to one of the largest traffic area of the site.
The CWD home page from sometime in 1996, based on the copyright notice.
1997 to 1998
In 1997, CWD was redesigned with a cleaner look. The new logo appear for the first time. Interior pages included the top and bottom navigation tools that remain today. With a majority of CWD visitors using dial up modems, graphics were kept to a minimum. The home page was still just links to interior pages.
Complete records of web site traffic data were made available beginning in January 1998 (since removed due to space constraints). That month shows a staggering increase in traffic to the web site, which coincided with the transfer of the CWD web site from it's old address -- www.castleweb.com/diabetes -- to the CWD domain -- www.childrenwithdiabetes.com -- and to a new, much more powerful server. Several hardware upgrades over the years have been needed to meet the traffic demands of CWD. As of 2014, CWD is hosted on the Amazon Cloud.
Beginning in January 1998, CWD added advertisements to each page as a way to help pay for the cost of delivering the web site. We had asked readers in late 1997 for their thoughts on advertising, which was becoming common on other web sites. Most indicated that the presence of advertising would not change their use of CWD. Given the significant cost of delivering the web site (paying for computer hardware and the growing Internet connection), advertising was essential. A previous "pledge drive" to raise money from visitors did not succeed.
Since the privacy of our visitors is and always will be of paramount importance, we built our own advertising server, which remains in use today. Ads are delivered anonymously, without tracking who has seen what. This maintains our goals of free and anonymous access to all CWD content.
The first poll was run from October 11 to 18, 1998, asking readers about the blood glucose meter that they use. A new poll has run each week since, with some polls repeating over the years to get a sense for the changes in diabetes care.
Late in 1998, the home page changed to include information instead of just links to interior pages. Headlines listed the week's top stories and links, the current Poll appeared on the top right, the most recently published question for the Diabetes Team was listed, and a featured child with diabetes appeared on the page.
By the end of 1998, CWD had moved from a simple web site consisting of plain HTML web pages to a complex web site that required advanced server-side processing to generate each web page in real time as it was requested. The web site required a sophisticated database to store its advertisements and ensure correct delivery, and it required a powerful server computer to run it. Network connectivity was now through a dedicated T1 circuit.
The CWD home page from July 18, 1998.
The CWD home page as it looked in late 1998. This snapshot is from May 9, 1999.
1999 to 2000
By mid-to-late 1999, running Children with Diabetes as a part-time, after-work venture was taking its toll. Keeping the site running required almost every spare moment during weekday evenings and weekends.
In the fall of 1999, Jeff Hitchcock attended a family diabetes retreat in southern California. While there, he had a discussion about creating a new company to take over CWD and expand it to include many more features and services. At this time, investment in the Internet was still roaring, and health care sites were of particular interest. This idea seemed to be a great solution to the problem of building a framework that could sustain CWD. In April 2000, the new company, Diabetes123.com, Inc., was launched. (Diabetes123 was a mirror of CWD content, but with an age-neutral web site address.) Launching in April 2000 proved to be quite a challenge, as this was the month that the Internet investment bubble burst. Surviving was an enormous challenge.
The web site changed just a little during this time, sporting a cleaner look. Traffic continued to grow as more people discovered the site. We also began shipping more and more of the CWD brochures and URL cards to families and health care professionals around the world. To date, we've shipped over 300,000 to people in about 75 countries. Many families are given one of these in the information packet they receive when their child is first diagnosed.
Most notable in 2000 was our first conference, held in Orlando, Florida. What began as an email by Laura Billetdeaux to the parents mailing list ("anyone want to meet in Orlando for a vacation?") became 110 families -- 550 people -- getting together for several days of fun and comraderie. From Laura's email, CWD's conferences have grown to become the most amazing educational and support experience for families who have kids with diabetes.
The CWD home page from February 19, 2000.
2001 to 2005
By 2001, CWD's home page had taken on the look it has today, which includes an advertisement for a major sponsor on the top right, a link to login to cwdMail, a spam-protected, free email service (retired), and most recently, a featured quilt square from the Quilt for Life.
The Quilt for Life was launched in spring 2002, with the goal of raising awareness about diabetes. It was first shown at the Friends for Life: Pasadena 2002 summer conference. The Quilt was shown at the 2005 Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, held in San Diego, California.
In October 2002, CWD launched cwdMail, which offered a free email account with rigorous anti-spam protection. With the advent of GMail and other free email services, cwdMail was retired.
Web site traffic continued to grow over this period, with March 2004 being the current high point -- 9.4 million hits, 1.8 million page views, and almost 15,000 visitors per day to the web site. Since launch, CWD has delivered over 100 million pages.
The Family Support Network, launched in January 2005, will help families find others nearby -- for babysitting, helping with kids off at college, or just getting together.
In late 2004, CWD began selling its Insulin is Not a Cure bracelets to raise money for its IDYA activities. The sales exceeded all expectations, with the first 10,000 selling out in six weeks. From that initial sale, CWD was able to donate $50,000 to diabetes charities through July 1, 2005. (CWD no longer sells bracelets.)
CWD conferences also grew enormously during this period. Led by CWD events coordinator Laura Billetdeaux, CWD now holds four events each year: the annual Friends for Life conference in July, two smaller regional conferences (one in the spring and one in the fall), and a vacation in the late winter or early spring. These events bring together families from across the United States and many other countries with some of the very best health care professionals in diabetes care, along with generous corporate sponsors. These events are powerfully moving experiences for everyone who attends. The Friends for Life: 2005 conference at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort had record attendance of 2,200 people.
In 2005, CWD ...
- Delivered 22.6 million pages
- Hosted 4.9 million user sessions
- Had visitors from 149 countries
- Published 1,133 answers to questions submitted to our Diabetes Team, bringing the total number of questions and answers online to 16,162 as of January 1, 2006
- Added over 1,850 families to the new Family Support Network
The CWD home page from July 24, 2005.
In 2006, CWD has continued to grow to help our families and their children live as well as possible with diabetes. Traffic has surged, with each month in 2006 bringing new records for page views and user sessions compared with the year before.
On June 8, 2006, the CWD Quilt for Life was shown on the national mall in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association Call to Congress and Scientific Sessions. Families from around the country visited to have their picture taken beside their quilt.
In March 2006, CWD held a Focus on Pumping conference near Philadelphia. This was the first CWD conference to sell out. With 400 people in attendance, space was tight but the program was a great success. One family even flew in from France to learn about pump therapy and about how to run a conference.
The first Teen Adventure was held in May 2006 -- a biking adventure weekend in Boulder, Colorado. A group of teens from across the country spent a weekend outdoors in the beautiful Boulder weather and learned a lot about exercise, teamwork, and not letting diabetes get in the way of living life to the fullest.
The annual Friends for Life: Orlando 2006 conference was the best yet, and included an amazing group of special guests and an incredible faculty. About 2,000 people participated. Special awards were given to Dean Kamen and Al Mann for their pioneering work in making insulin pump therapy a reality.
In September 2006, we launched the CWD Welcome Kit, which includes a blank quilt square (to make a panel for the Quilt for Life), a DVD about kids living with diabetes, information about glucose monitoring and pumps, all in a nice backpack. The CWD Welcome Kit is no longer available.
The CWD home page from September 25, 2006.
2007 began with the Focus on Best Practices conference in Marco Island, Florida. Sixty families from all over the U.S. gathered for several days of educational sessions, kids activities, support, and plenty of outdoor exercise. The event was spectacular, and we're planning on returning every January.
In February 2007, families from around the US, Scotland, Spain, and Italy met in New York for the CWD New York Family Adventure Weekend. We had a wonderful time in the city, though it was definitely chilly.
In March 2007, Jeff Hitchcock, Dr. Bruce Buckingham, Natalie Bellini, and Paul Madden, all members of the Children with Diabetes conference faculty, traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to participate in the 2007 Arab Children Health Congress. This was a chance to share the CWD experience, in a small way, with families and clinicians in the Middle East. The trip was an amazing experience.
CWD's 24th event, the Focus on Pumping: La Jolla 2007 was held in La Jolla, Californina in April. With 250 people, the regional conference was again a great success. Families learned from diabetes experts from around the US and had a chance to socialize in the delightful San Diego weather -- though it did get a little cold on the last day.
In July 2007, over 2,500 people attended Friends for Life: Orlando 2007, CWD's 7th annual conference and 25th event. We had the largest attendance, most first timers, largest exhibit hall, most concurrent sessions -- and hottest weather! Thankfully the sessions are indoors in the air conditioning. We also hosted a group of 55 people from the United Arab Emirates, including famlies and health care professionals.
CWD's first conference outside the United States was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in August 2007. Hundreds of people from both Canada and the United States attended this regional conference. The feedback was so positive that we've scheduled another conference for Toronto in March 2009.
CWD's 27th event was Focus on Pumping: Minneapolis 2007 held in October 2007. Families from the midwest enjoyed unseasonably warm weather and learned about pump therapy. Animas Corporation surprised everyone by launching their pink insulin pump at the event.
The CWD home page from November 4, 2007.
2008 began with our second Focus on Best Practices conference in Marco Island, Florida. About 100 families gathered for several days of educational sessions, kids activities, support, and plenty of outdoor exercise. Families came from as far as California and Maine in the U.S., and also from Chile and Egypt! While the weather was a bit chilly, the conference was a great success.
In February 2008, families met in Seattle for the Focus on Pumping conference -- our 29th event. The conference was sold out and included families from throughout the Pacific northwest, as well as a large contingent from Canada.
On March 28, 2008, Children with Diabetes, Inc., which includes www.childrenwithdiabetes.com, the Quilt for Life and the Friends for Life conferences, joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies as part of the Diabetes Franchise. Please see the letter to the CWD community, the CWD Statement of Principles, and watch video messages from our community members.
In July 2008, over 3,000 people attended Friends for Life: Orlando 2008, CWD's 8th annual conference and 30th event. We had the largest attendance, most first timers, most focus groups, and most concurrent sessions. We had a couple firsts -- the first scientific poster session, as part of Friday's Dessert with the Faculty, and first continuous sensor trials offered by a corporate partner.
Plans were made to hold CWD's first Friends for Life UK conference to meet the needs of families living in the UK and Europe.
The CWD home page from December 3, 2008.
2009 began with our third Focus on Best Practices conference in Marco Island, Florida. About 230 people returned to the Marriott Marco Island Resort for several days of educational sessions, kids activities, support, and plenty of outdoor exercise. The weather was wondeful, just like the first Marco Island conference.
In March 2009, CWD returned to Canada for our second Focus on Pumping conference in Toronto. Keynote speaker Dr. Bruce Perkins, himself a pumper, gave a wonderful presentation about "Why We Pump." The sold out conference was a great success.
Late April found CWD back in Chicago for a Focus on Technology conference -- another sold out event. The 350 parents, kids, grandparents, and diabetes educators learns about the latest diabetes care technology, including insulin pumps and continuous sensors, as well as work underway to combine these tools into an artificial pancreas -- the "closed loop" system.
In June, CWD exhibited its new booth at the 2009 Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association. The new booth was four times the size of our old 10x10 space and gave us a chance to share 20 panels from the Quilt for Life, run two slide shows of photos from our conferences, and have two interactive, online computers, allowing us to show the web site in real time.
Over 3,200 people came to Friends for Life: Orlando 2009, making it our largest event ever. About 1,000 people were first timers. Families could try out insulin pumps and continuous sensors and kids could get their eyes screened using the latest technology. Sessions included closing the loop, the status of biological cures, getting the most out of pumps and sensors, coping with the emotional challenges of diabetes. We also held dedicated tracks for grandparents and young adults with type 1 diabetes.
CWD's first conference outside of North America was held near London in August 2009 -- Friends for Life: UK 2009. 500 people from throughout the UK, with a good sized group from the US, shared an incredibly magical weekend. Sessions covered everything from best practices and managing diabetes in school in the UK to the psychological and emotional aspects of our lives. With the first UK event a success, we're planning our next event for 2010.
In September 2009, Marissa passed the state nursing exam, becoming Marissa Hitchcock, BSN, RN.
The CWD home page from September 2, 2009.
2010 began with a return to Marco Island, but with a new theme -- a Family Support Weekend. With a strong team of psychologists and a family therapist, we helped families understand the challenges of living well with diabetes and offered strategies to help everyone do their best. The weather was good for the first couple days, then cooled down a bit -- but it was still nicer than the chill and snow in much of the country.
In February 2010, CWD returned to Texas for a Focus on Technology conference in Houston. While most families were local, we did have one intrepid family who came from Alaska. Most families were new to CWD, and many were new to diabetes.
In late June, we returned to Orlando for out annual International Friends for Life conference, this time at a new venue -- the Marriott World Center. We'd outgrown the Renaissance Orlando and needed a new space for even years (Disney is odd years). Well over 3,000 people attended, including over 800 first timers. Jay Hewitt opened the conference with an uplifting and inspiring presentation, and Will Cross closed with another uplifting and inspiring presentation.
Just a couple weeks after FFL, CWD headed to Vancouver for our first Friends for Life Canada conference. Over 500 people came from across Canada -- even from as far away as Newfoundland and Nova Scotia -- to learn about the latest in diabetes research, technology, and care.
Over Labor Day Weekend, CWD visited Charlotte, North Carolina for a Focus on Technology conference, updating families on the latest in insulin pumps and continuous sensors, as well as how to live well with these devices. While the kids enjoyed learning about the new tools, they really enjoyed the larger than life sized poster of Nick Jonas, which sat beside the always-busy table of Bayer HealthCare Diabetes Care.
Halloween weekend found CWD outside London for CWD's Friends for Life UK, our second UK event. With crisp, autumn air outside, we stayed mostly inside -- except the teens, who ventured to a nearby amusement park for their off site in the rain. They loved it anyway. And Saturday evening saw the Beaumont House transformed into a Halloween party, complete with exceptional makeup and costumes.
The CWD home page from March 11, 2010.
2011 began with a return to Marco Island, repeating our Family Support Weekend. With a strong team of psychologists and a family therapist, we once again helped families understand the challenges of living well with diabetes and offered strategies to help everyone do their best. The weather was nice -- mid-70s and mostly sunny. Much better than the blizzards across much of the country.
In March 2011, CWD hosted its Focus on Technology conference in Cincinnati. In spite of freezing temperatures and a dusting of snow, a near sell out crowd had a great weekend learning about the latest in diabetes technology and sharing the CWD experience. Half of conference participants were new to CWD.
We returned to Orlando for out annual International Friends for Life conference, once again at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Highlights included banquet entertainment by Crystal Bowersox, recognition of Joe Solowiejczyk's 50th year of living with type 1 diabetes, and over 3,000 people in attendance. Dr. Richard Rubin and CWD dad Oliver Double from the UK opened the conference with an uplifting and entertaining presentation, and Iron Man Triathlete Jay Hewitt closed with an uplifting and inspiring presentation.
Just a couple weeks after FFL, CWD headed to Toronto for our second Friends for Life Canada conference. About 350 people came from across Canada to learn about the latest in diabetes research, technology, and care. More than half were new to CWD. As usual, the teens headed off site and had a great time.
Halloween weekend once again found CWD outside London for CWD's Friends for Life UK, our third UK event. Beaumont House was at capacity, so much so that we had to run meals in two shifts. Joe Solowiejczyk was surprised by a crowd wearing "I (heart) Joe Solo" T-shirts! Saturday evening saw the Beaumont House transformed into a Halloween party, complete with exceptional makeup and costumes.
The CWD home page from November 15, 2011.
In January 2012, CWD families traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for CWD's Family Support Weekend. Once again the focus was on the psychosocial challenges facing families living with type 1 diabetes. Great weather helped make the weekend a wonderful and memorable experience.
In February 2012, CWD hosted its Focus on Technology conference just outside Philadelphia. In spite of a flash snow storm that produced a near white out, we once again had a capacity crowd, as we always do in Philadelphia. Sessions covered continuous sensing, advanced insulin pumping, as well as dealing with stress and dealing with diabetes technology in school.
We returned to Orlando for out annual International Friends for Life conference, at the Marriott World Center. Highlights included banquet entertainment by Crystal Bowersox, hosting a large group of teens from Italy, our largest group of adults with type 1 ever, and over 3,000 people in attendance. Jeff Hitchcock shared the great news his daughter Marissa's wedding at the beginning of the Richard Rubin Opening Keynote, and then handed the session over to Tom Karlya. Addressing the needs of our growing adults with type 1 audience, we had dedicated programming and rooms for this important audience. Two full days of sessions covered topics from sensors to pumps to highs and lows and everything in between. Closing the conference were Jay Hewitt and Kendall Simmons, who shared their incredible stories of overcoming type 1 diabetes to achieve incredible success.
Just a couple weeks after FFL, CWD headed to Vancouver for our third annual Friends for Life Canada conference. About 300 people, mostly from the Canadian west, came to learn about the latest in diabetes research, technology, and care. More than half were new to CWD. Great speakers from Canada rounded out the usual CWD faculty, offering sessions focusing on the unique aspects of diabetes care in Canada. As usual, the teens headed off site and had a great time.
In mid-October CWD headed to Sugar Land, Texas, for our second Focus on Technology of the year. Dr. Stephen Ponder updated families on CGMS and new technology while wearing headgear from Monte Python -- quite a picture. Families learned about advanced pumping concepts, how to choose the right infusion set, and dealing with diabetes burnout.
Our final conference of the hear was Friends for Life UK, our fourth FFL UK event, back at Beaumont House in Old Windsor the first week of November. Once again were sold out and at capacity, so much so that we had to run meals in two shifts. After an inspiring keynote by Tom Karlya, IDF President Sir Michael Hirst shared his personal connection to type 1 diabetes before turning the second keynote over to Dr. Tabitha Randell, who updated families about the NHS and diabetes. Two full days of sessions followed, culminating in a closing address by Jeff Hitchcock who shared the good news of his daughter's wedding earlier in the year.
The CWD home page from June 26, 2012.
In early February 2013 -- Super Bowl weekend in fact -- CWD headed to Washington, DC for our first Focus on Technology of the year. Dr. Ed Damiano's session, "Pathway to the Artificial Pancreas," left many in the audience with a sense of restored hope and optimism not felt by many for years, if not decades. After a full day of sessions on Saturday, Sebastien Sasseville offered a wonderful closing keynote on Sunday morning, giving families a chance to enjoy a great breakfast and make it home in time for football.
About a month later, CWD headed to Toronto for our fourth annual Friends for Life Canada conference. Families from all over Canada -- about 75% new to CWD -- came to learn about the latest in diabetes research, technology, and care. A great team of speakers from Canada and the US covered topics including diabetes technology, the artificial pancreas project, dealing with diabetes burnout, and traveling with type 1 diabetes (as in, camping in the wilds of Canada). A group of diabetes heroes, followed by Jeff Hitchcock's summary, closed out the conference.
The first week of April 2013 was Friends for Life UK, our fifth FFL UK event and first event in Scotland. Once again we were sold out and at capacity, so much so that we had to run meals in two shifts. Sir Michael Hirst, President of IDF, opened the conference and was followed by Tom Karlya, who inspired families to get involved and make a difference. Saturday evening saw CWD's first Family Ceilidh, complete with many CWD men dressed in traditional and appropriate Scottish kilts. Closing the conference was Jeff Hitchcock, who offered suggestions on living well with type 1 and shared that he is an expectant grandfather -- affirming that our kids with type 1 grow up to live wonderful lives.
In July, over 3,500 people -- a new record -- traveled to Orlando, Florida for Friends for Life Orlando. So many highlights: in addition to focus groups, a Partnering for Diabetes Change session on embracing social media; Dr. Ben and his team bringing even more state-of-the-art retinal screening technology; Dr. Alessio Fasano and his team screening over 350 people for celiac (first time at FFL); Meri Schumacher helping us remember Richard Rubin; the FFL Family Ball on Thursday evening, with many families in spectacular evening gowns and tuxedos; recognizing Paul Madden, Kerri Sparling, and Scott Johnson for their contributions to the diabetes community; Scott Johnson wearing the Bionic Pancreas and broadcasting his blood glucose data; teens off to Disney's Hollywood Studios; Tandem's Casino Night ... and so much more.
CWD's final 2013 conference was Focus on Technology, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, the weekend of December 7-8. Following an interesting and amusing opening keynote by Dr. Jeremy Pettus (who can forget The Hypoglycemic Blues?), families enjoyed sessions on advanced pumping, interpreting CGM, dealing with diabetes burnout, and caring for teens with type 1, just to name a few. Sunday's closing keynote was an inspiringly named "Making Diabetes Management Disappear: A Bionic Pancreas for One and All" by Ed Damiano, PhD, who shared his teams work on building a commercially viable closed-loop, bionic pancreas within the next four years.
Closing out the year, on December 6, 2013, Children with Diabetes became an independent non-profit organization. Rest assured that CWD's mission will continue -- offering support and education to families living with type 1 diabetes.
The CWD home page from December 21, 2013.
2014 was a year of redefining and rebuilding. We spent the first half of the year building our board and preparing to file for 501c3 charity status, which was granted to us on August 29, 2014. We can now accept your donations, and you can deduct those donations from your taxes.
Our first conference for 2014 was Friends for Life Orlando, held the week of July 4th at the World Center Marriott. Nearly 3,200 people from across the country joined us and found that Friends for Life was as it always has been: a profoundly life-changing experience. I shared the wonderful news of becoming a grandfather, affirming all that we do to help people live well with type 1 diabetes.
In August, we returned to Beaumont House in Old Windsor for Friends for Life UK 2014. Like all FFL UK conferences, FFL UK 2014 sold out in a few hours, demonstrating once again the need for our conference in the UK, and for our need to find additional support to allow more families to attend.
October found us at Disney again, but Disneyland in Anaheim, not Disney World in Orlando, for our Focus on Technology weekend conference. About 300 people enjoyed a spectacular weekend learning about the latest in diabetes technology and technology-based research, as well as the great Disneyland theme parks. We were also joined by the Nightscout team, who held an installation workshop. We're looking forward to returning to Disneyland in 2015.
As the first full year of non-profit status wound to a close, we found ourselves thankful to be able to continue to serve families living with type 1 diabetes.
In 2014 we added a "Donate" button, reflecting our 501c3 status
Our first conference for 2015 was Friends for Life Orlando, held the week after July 4th at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Over 2,000 people from across the US and several other countries joined us and found that Friends for Life was as it always has been: a profoundly life-changing experience. I reflected on two photos from my life which illustrate well the incredibly positive lives that CWD families can live.
In September, we returned to Disneyland in Anaheim Focus on Technology weekend conference. Over 300 people enjoyed a spectacular weekend learning about the latest in diabetes technology and technology-based research, as well as the great Disneyland theme parks. We were also joined again by the Nightscout team, who held an installation workshop.
We brought Friends for Life back to Canada in October at Niagara Falls. A capacity crowd of over 450 people enjoyed a spectacular weekend learning about the latest in diabetes care strategies, research, and technology. A Nightscout team joined us, sharing their innovative technology with families from Canada.
In late October, we returned to Beaumont House in Old Windsor for Friends for Life UK 2015. Like all FFL UK conferences, FFL UK 2015 sold out in a few hours, demonstrating once again the need for our conference in the UK, and for our need to find additional support to allow more families to attend.
With our second full year as a 501c3 non-profit, we found ourselves thankful once again to be able to continue to serve families living with type 1 diabetes.
In November 2015 the web site highlighted World Diabetes Day
Last Updated: Thursday November 12, 2015 12:39:44
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