I Know What (many of) You Did Last Summer……and Many More Should Do It This Year Too!!!!

CWDLogoIt was about this time 13 years ago; perhaps a tad earlier, perhaps in the final weeks of the year before.  I read in a chat room that a woman was heading to Florida with her family and if anyone wanted to meet there, to let her know. 

This was not any chat room.  It was a chat room of all parents who had kids with diabetes.  I knew in my heart that the one man who started it, and was relaying information about diabetes and allowing us the opportunity to be connected, was doing a herculean job.  He was a man who just wanted his daughter to be able to reach out and connect with others; he changed the diabetes world forever.

So I reached out to this woman (as did hundreds of others), and I stated we would love to go; and although none of us would know it, we became part of history.  The Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference (CWD FFL) was born.  That too would change the diabetes world forever.  Click the link above to see EVERYTHING in store for this year.

Jeff Hitchcock and Laura Billetdeaux are probably two of the most brilliant people you will ever meet for a whole bunch of reason but the one that stands out is that they both did something that had never been done before in such a way.  Jeff created Children with Diabetes, and Laura created every conference since that summer in 2000.

Their philosophy of ‘kids with diabetes are still just kids’ is a simplistic phrase with earth shattering complexity that drives them to perfection every year to create a conference that deals with the entire family and how diabetes impacts everyone from sibling, to parents, to grandparents, to children, and also now to adults who live with diabetes every day.  Amazing.

My phrase, albeit a tad politically incorrect, has always been to beg, borrow, or steal but get to a CWD conference and now through the Diabetes Scholars Foundation, there may even be financial help to get your family there as well.

This annual conference (there are also local ones and those in other countries) in Orlando Florida each July has over 3000 people and many state all the time how they feel the personal touch each and every year. 

Education, inspiring stories, inspiring people (in the past there have been American Idol contestants, Professional Race Car Drivers, Olympian Gold Medal Winners, Miss America, and the list goes on and on), and you can also see and touch the latest in technology for the best in management and in the research world.  (not to mention a very famous Mouse and a few of his friends)

Any others who have been there please reply to this article and let others know WHAT YOU thought of past conferences.

See you in Orlando in July (shhhhhh rumor has it that the incredible Moira McCarthy Stanford is giving the welcoming keynote—but don’t tell anyone I told you—PS it’s not really a secret but worthy of the reminder) :) .

So if you have never been, get there this year; whatever it takes.  Your lives will change.  Your lives will be changed forever.  Bring the kids (yup there is childcare), the grandparents, and yourselves.   Newly diagnosed or the new normal has been around too long; CWD FFL.  Be there.
I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

8 thoughts on “I Know What (many of) You Did Last Summer……and Many More Should Do It This Year Too!!!!

  1. This is the happiest week of my year. Makes all the other days of the year bearable. The friendships that I have from FFL make my heart swell with pride and love.

  2. This is by far the most well planned, kindest and best thought out conference my husband or I have ever been to. The focus on the technologies that are out there or coming up, the knowledgeable and expert presenters, the comaraderie & understanding you find whenever you turn around, (the free stuff!!) and the focus on the T1′s in our life makes this an experience of a lifetime…that you can have every year! The friends you will make are priceless and for life. And watching your young T1 walk around and say – “Hey! She has diabetes and Celiac just like me!” or “Look Mom – he has the same pump as me” does help heal a T1 parent’s heart just a little bit. We won’t be able to make it this year because we’re moving, but we’ll be back again next year!

  3. It’s all true, Tom, and hard to overstate what an uplifting experience the conference is for our family. We had to drag our son to our first Friends for Life conference; now he keeps a “countdown to FFL’ on the calendar. He loves it for the fun, D-kids being kids, the mentors, and all the support and acceptance. It’s his favorite activity of the year and he ranks it above summer camp. For us parents it’s our time to connect and learn from each other and the experts, and have a fantastic time with a huge group of people who all “get it.”

  4. FFL has become such an amazing family reunion every July. And you, Tom Karlya, are no small part of this!

  5. We are so EXCITED!! This is our first conference and we are all looking forward to meeting other families and listening to the wonderful speakers!! Can’t wait to meet many of you there!

  6. We learned a great deal from the presentations and it was great to have the vendors all in one place. Though socially, it struck us as a bit cliquey.

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