July 16, 2013
Written by: Dani Petrunich, CDN Student Blogger (and awesome intern!)
It’s midday Tuesday, and I’m sitting on my front porch, back home in New England. I got into Boston at midnight on Sunday, and I spent all of yesterday resting up after a long and busy week in Orlando. The conference ended with a Farewell Breakfast on Sunday morning, though all the sessions were over Friday. I apologize for not keeping up with my blogs—I had every intention to maintain an online diary of sorts during the conference, but time just seemed to slip away from me towards the end of the week. I think I left you with a summary of Thursday’s proceedings…
Friday was another awesome day of diabetes activities! I attended three sessions, all of which were extremely informative and interesting:
1. Young Women’s Discussion, lead by the lovely Barbara Anderson
2. Drugs, Sex, and Rock ‘N Roll by the very cool Korey Hood
3. Sports and Pumping: Finding the Right Mix by T1D and athlete Rick Philbin
After my last session, I had a few hours of downtime before I attended the Adults with Type 1 Casino Night at 7 o’clock. I’m not much of a gambler—after losing ten bucks in a game of Left Right Center with my family a few Christmases ago, I have not been too keen to bet any more of my hard-earned cash on luck, chance, or my poor card-playing skills; but since we used fake money on Friday night, I tried my hand at almost every table. I still wasn’t very good, but I had a lot of fun learning and playing the casino games, taking pictures with my friends at the photo booth, grooving on the dance floor, and socializing with all the T1Ds at the event.
Saturday was not quite as busy as all the other days: on the schedule, Saturday was Family Day, meant for convention-goers to spend doing whatever they pleased while still in Florida. Many people made their way to the parks, my friends included; I stayed at the resort and filled my morning with breakfast and meetings with Jo and Tina. At three, my friend, Heather, and I made our way to the Convention Center to help set up for the Make Some Magic dinner and fundraising event for the Diabetes Scholars Foundation later that night. I’m really happy I was able to help out with this event: without my scholarship from the DSF, I wouldn’t have joined Tina and Jo at the conference last week, so helping prep for their dinner and auction was the least I could do to show my appreciation. Doors opened at 6, and the evening was wonderful—the food was delicious, the entertainment spectacular, and the company jolly. I had fun walking around and looking at all of the items available in the silent auction: Heather and I ended up with the winning bid on a pair of geode rocks, which we shared and were both very excited about. Everyone seemed full and happy at the end of the night with their new items and their donations to such a wonderful foundation, and after collecting payments for the auction items using iPad and Square technology (how cool!), I, too, returned back to my room, sleepy and content.
Sunday breakfast marked the official end of the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference 2013. It was a melancholy kind of morning: my friends left, one by one, until there were only a few of us remaining. We gave each other hugs, took a few photos, and made sure we had each other’s contact information before parting ways, but as each new friend left, I wondered if I’d ever see them again. We shared so many memories, smiles, and laughs together in just a few short days, and we all made a very unique connection with each other over our shared understanding of a life with diabetes…I have never made friends quite like these before, and I miss them and our adventures together already. By noon, Heather, my friend Jacqueline, and I were the only ones left at the resort. We spent our afternoon in Downtown Disney, shopping and eating lunch before heading back to the hotel. Heather and Jackie left as soon as we returned to Coronado Springs, and I left a couple hours later. With my backpack full of session notes and fliers, and my geode stowed away in my suitcase, I returned to the world where everybody didn’t have diabetes—my green bracelet, which had previously signaled that I was a member of the T1D club at the conference, was now just a tattered piece of paper that I couldn’t seem to tear off my wrist.
As I looked out the plane window, gazing down at the sparkling city below and the moon and stars above, I was happy. I was happy to be resting on a plane, headed for my family and my beautiful Cape Cod; I was happy with my job, my bosses, the other CDN student leaders I met at the conference, and the mission of CDN; and more than anything, I was happy with my week at the CWDFFL conference. I learned more about diabetes than I could’ve imagined, made friends and memories I will cherish for the rest of my life, and came to understand myself a lot better on this trip. I recommend this conference to anyone interested in learning more about diabetes, making new friends, or connecting with others who actually get what a life with diabetes is really about. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I am looking forward to the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference 2014 with all of my new pals.
Thanks for reading my blogs, and make sure to check back here over the next couple weeks for an in-depth look at the content of the conference sessions! I encourage all of my readers to think about attending next year’s conference at the Marriot World Center Resort in Orlando, FL from July 2-6, and experience this one-of-a-kind event for yourselves!
Until next year, Orlando—thanks for all the memories.