Marco Island 2008 Report

The weather was perfect. The beach was perfect. The sunset was extraordinary. Oh wait -- that was last year! The 2008 Focus on Best Practices conference dawned at about 32 degrees with gale force winds and sand blowing sideways. Time for parkas and hot chocolate. Was this really Florida? You bet! And we had a great time at the conference!

So began CWD's second Focus on Best Practices conference, held January 3-6, 2008 at the Marriott Marco Island Resort.

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! The presentations covered a wide range of cutting-edge topics. Dr. Bob Bulgarelli set the tone of the conference by opening with a session about managing our stressful lifestyles. During the next session, Kim Kelly discussed the challenges and importance of decreasing glycemic variability, and Rick Philbin and Doug Burns shared ideas for managing diabetes during exercise. Following a short break, Betty Brackenridge presented the most current information with regard to sick day management, and Dr. Darrell Wilson shared his thoughts regarding "The Best of the Best in Pumping and MDI."

With the morning over, everyone donned jackets or sweatshirts and headed out to the beach for lunch! While we had plenty of chairs set up by the water (for the expected sunshine which never appeared), the preferred activities of the day were soccer and volleyball! As long as everyone kept active, we were all toasty warm. CWD also had sailboats, paddleboats, and kayaks reserved for the afternoon, and they got plenty of use. By late afternoon, all of the teens had retired to the hot tubs by the swimming pools – out of the wind!

Saturday's sessions began with Dr. Antonello Pileggi from the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami. As is always the case with updates from the DRI, Dr. Pileggi's presentation left parents feeling very optimistic and hopeful about a future cure for type 1 diabetes. Dr. Bruce Buckingham continued the morning's sessions with "Continuous Sensing: Now What?" He presented evidence regarding the efficacy of continuous sensors, and many parents shared that their children were either using a sensor or were considering one. Under the "Now What?" discussion, parents shared their successes and frustrations. Dr. Buckingham stated that continuous sensing is clearly a work in progress and that we are still very early in the process of utilizing them effectively. A next goal with continuous sensors would be to have them work consistently well in the artificial pancreas model.

In a session titled "Keeping Perspective: A Healthy Family," psychologist Richard Rubin shared his own family and personal struggles with having a child with diabetes, and then he asked parents in the audience to recount their own stories to the group. It was a very moving and emotional discussion. Hearing others' experiences is so helpful to our own healthy perspective!

Dr. Bulgarelli concluded the morning sessions by bringing parents full circle, back to his comments during the opening keynote. He asked everyone to look inside themselves, consider all of the information they had learned the last two days, all of the friendships cemented, all of the support garnered… and to feel so very positive about the advances that have been made which allow our kids to lead happy, healthy lives.

Did we mention the fun that the kids had during sessions both days? From serious discussion groups to kite-making-decorating-and-flying to Diabetes Taboo, the mornings were full of information and fun – and plenty of opportunities to make lifelong friends. On hand for the kids were several athletes, including Mr. Universe Doug Burns, Team Type 1 Founder and Captain Phil Southerland, Distance Swimmer Jen Alexander, and Professional Surfer Scott Dunton. These athletes spent their conference time interacting with the kids, discussing their own challenges in managing diabetes and their sports and training – and they just plain had fun. Many thanks to CWD Sports Coordinator Rick Philbin for helping the athletes maximize their time with the different age groups.

With sessions concluded, everyone headed out to the beach for lunch, a slightly warmer afternoon, and some great soccer, volleyball, football, and kite-flying! The sailboats were in use again, the sun peeked out for a few minutes, and it was a wonderful afternoon. The conference ended with a beach-themed dinner (unfortunately held indoors because 55 degrees on the beach in the dark isn't much fun!) ... with DJ Gil, some really fun music and dancing for the kids and teens, and the best company in the world!

Same time, next year.

So many thanks are due to our wonderful sponsors: Abbott Diabetes Care, Animas Corporation, Disetronic Medical Systems, Insulet Corporation, LifeScan, Maple Grove Farms, Medtronic Diabetes, Novo Nordisk, Pelikan Technologies, Sanofi-Aventis, and Smiths Medical MD, Inc.. We hope you were able to come away with memories of the smiles and the hope created this weekend. We simply could not do this without your support.

As always, many thanks as well to our CWD staff and volunteers: Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, Intissar Elarbi, Marissa Hitchcock, Elizabeth Vanover, Brian Foster, Kim Kelly, Melissa Ringley, Natalie Bellini, Jim Vail, Nabil Elarbi, Neal Billetdeaux, Katie Daugherty, Mike Schurig, Julia Mattingly, Lisa Anstine, Mary Podjasek, Mary Babin, Pam Loebner, and Stacey Nagel. You are all worth your weight in gold.

[ Report | Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Event announcement ]

  Children with Diabetes: Focus on Best Practices

A group of CWD kids, led by Brenda Hitchcock, wrote "WELCOME CWD" in the sand
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Chilly weather meant more time in long pants and jackets than swimsuits
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Marissa and Kenny led a dance after Saturday's dinner
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Though chilly, the evening light of the resort was beautiful
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Last Updated: Thu Mar 20 11:49:41 2008
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