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  Back to FFL Orlando 2016 Report 2016 FFL Orlando Report: Thursday

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Thursday was an absolutely packed day, and it both began and ended with music.

Lilly Diabetes once again this year generously sponsored the Richard Rubin Opening Keynote and Breakfast. Crystal Bowersox joined as Lilly’s Special Guest, and she was so delightful and genuine, answering questions from kids and parents while on stage with CWD President and Founder Jeff Hitchcock. Crystal has made appearances at Friends for Life in past years, and it was so special having her back with us.

Ed Damiano, who along with this team developed the Bionic Pancreas (now called the iLet), presented the Opening Keynote. It was exciting and hopeful, and set the stage and tone for further FFL presentations on Thursday and Friday about development of other artificial pancreas models and studies. The day featured quite a mix of sessions, covering some brand new topics such as ‘Misconceptions about A1c’ and ‘Prevention and Treatment: From Probiotics to Immunotherapy.’ It also featured some tried-n-true presentations such as ‘Making Sense of Sensor Data’ and ‘Positive Caregiving,’ as well as a reprisal of a CWD favorite – Moira McCarthy’s ‘Finding a Way to Say Yes.’

Advocacy sessions were prominent on both Thursday and Friday, as were psychosocial support sessions and discussion groups. The Grandparents Program featured several well-attended sessions, including the Common Fears Discussion. Also, two sessions which were requested in feedback last year – Sports Nutrition and Game Day Management – were brand new this year and specifically addressed diabetes management for athletes.

Sessions for adults with type 1 and their partners, such as ‘Dealing with Burnout’ and ‘Parenting with Type 1 Diabetes,’ were scattered throughout the Thursday and Friday schedule vs being contained in one ‘track.’ This also was in response to last year’s feedback. Many thanks to Insulet Corporation for continuing to sponsor the Type 1 Adult sessions and helping us build this program for our fastest-growing group of attendees!

Thursday’s youth program included sessions for elementary (ages 6-8), tween (ages 9-12), and teen (ages 13+) groups. As well, childcare was provided for our youngest participants. CWD’s Youth Program leaders have been doing this for a long time, and they pulled together the very best in terms of what activities would best lead to the learning objectives. Yes, the kids always have fun, and yes, there is always a detailed plan behind the activities! Many thanks to the leaders and to the age group program staff, who kept everything running smoothly on Thursday and Friday.

Sessions ended promptly at 4:45, and it was time to set up and decorate for the Family and Friends Banquet, once again so generously sponsored by Novo Nordisk. This year’s theme was Wizard’s Night, and the costumes and decorations were amazing! CWD Mom Teresa Littlefield and her team of 50 volunteers spent just short of an hour turning the Palms Ballroom into a very Harry Potter-esque venue for the evening’s celebration. Diabetes Dad Tom Karlya was once again Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and he had the pleasure of introducing RaeLynn, an exciting country music performer and songwriter who has had type 1 for a decade, and whom we initially met on The Voice. RaeLynn invited the kids onto the dance floor, and she performed a wonderful and very moving half-hour set. Thanks, Novo Nordisk, for bringing RaeLynn to her first FFL!

Tom Karlya then introduced Jeff Hitchcock, who presented the Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Graham Ogle, co-founder and president of Life for a Child, a program of the International Diabetes Federation that provides diabetes care supplies to children with type 1 who live in under-resourced countries -- so that those children can live.

Prior to FFL week, CWD kids had the opportunity to submit a one-minute video for Docu-Diabetes II (aka the FFL Oscars) coordinated by CWD’s Ben Stroud, Tom Karlya, Kevin Covais, and Amanda Borges, who all work in the film industry. These short videos were viewed and voted on by a Wednesday FFL audience, and then the winning videos were shown during the Banquet. The video can be seen here. They were funny and spot-on, and yes, we definitely have some up-and-coming talent in our FFL kids! Congratulations and well done to all who submitted videos.

CWD’s VP of Education and Programs Laura Billetdeaux then took the stage, and she thanked sponsors, families, and staff for being this year’s Unexpected Heroes in helping CWD through some significant challenges in 2016. She then presented the eagerly-anticipated slide show, which featured this year’s first timers, as well as some poignant photos from the 2015 Friends for Life gathering.

CWD’s good friend and country music star George Canyon closed out the program part of the evening with an emotional and inspirational half hour set. George, diagnosed with type 1 at age 14, shared his story about growing up in Canada and wanting to become a pilot – and how he worked through all the challenges that seemed to stand in his way. He told the kids gathered in front of him on the dance floor that they can become anything they want to be. And yes, he IS a Canadian pilot. George then invited Jeff Hitchcock and Neal Billetdeaux on stage to provide sound effects for a hearty rendition of The Fart Song (assisted, of course, by all the kids). Thanks, Animas Canada, for making it possible to have George join us again this year!

And with that – the party was on! DJ Miles and Terra worked their usual magic with the crowd, the music, and the dance floor for an amazing and truly spectacular evening.


Dr. Ed Damiano presented the opening keynote

Families learned from renowned faculty like Dr. Irl Hirsch

CWD recognized Dr. Graham Ogle for his work on Life for a Child

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Last Updated: Thursday August 18, 2016 15:21:38
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