History of CWD
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 Sunday 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 March 2007, the "Diabetes Team" has answered over 30,000 questions, and 18,500 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 are available beginning in January 1998. 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 -- to the CWD domain -- -- and to a new, much more powerful server. Several hardware upgrades over the years have been needed to meet the traffic demands of CWD.

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.

In 1997 and 1998, Jeff Hitchcock attended the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association and began to write up reports from the sessions and exhibit hall.

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,, Inc., was launched. (Diabetes123 is 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 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, our spam-protected, free email service, 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. We are planning a display of the quilt at the Mall in Washington, DC, but need many more squares first.

In October 2002, CWD launched cwdMail, which offered a free email account with rigorous anti-spam protection. As of December 2005, cwdMail has over 2,250 users from around the world.

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 conferences also grew enormously during this period. Led by CWD events coordinator Laura Billetdeuax, 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, teemwork, 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 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 in doors in the air conditioning. We also hosted a group of 55 people from the United Arab Emirates, including famlies and health care professionals.

The CWD home page from May 11, 2007.

Jeff Hitchcock
August 2007

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Last Updated: Thu Aug 09 14:33:37 2007
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