Is it possible for an annual event to change your life for the better each and every year?

Is it possible for that event to be better than the year before, without taking away any magic from the previous event?

Absolutely.

I don’t know how they do it, but Jeff and Laura have the formula for magic in a bottle, and they sprinkle it over every conference they touch.

Contrasting Feelings

It was so amazing to see so many people living with type 1 diabetes together in one place.  It was also heartbreaking to see so many people wrestling with type 1 diabetes.

It was heartwarming to see so many people come together to support loved ones living with type 1 diabetes.  But it was devastating to see the impact of a diagnosis on a family.  The ripple hits so many around us.

It was overwhelming to see all of that money in the exhibit hall.  It was shocking to think about that money coming out of our pockets.

I was completely giddy being surrounded by so many of my friends from the DOC at the conference; happy, happy, fun, fun, joy, joy.  But a couple of scary low blood sugars bring the seriousness of this thing we live with right up close.

It was encouraging to hear Joe Soloweijczyk celebrate 50 years of type 1 diabetes.  It was recognition and familiarity that hit me when he wondered how he would find the energy to keep going.

After no more than a day, I was more exhausted than ever before.  At the same time, I was immediately full of endless energy and a drive to take it all in.  Sir Ken Robinson would say I found The Element.

Knowing When To Listen

More often than not, I found myself surrounded by brilliantly smart people. 

Thinking about the many different ways people can be smart, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the diversity that is possible.  There are so many different areas of expertise in life with diabetes.

Friends for Life brings them all together.  The best of the best.  Scary smart.

Knowing when to simply be quiet and listen is a skill that I am working hard on.  I got lots of good practice at Friends for Life, 2011.

Appreciating Opportunities

The CWD organization works very, very hard to make Friends for Life all about education and friendship.  It is not about fundraising, it is not about soliciting loyalty, it is not about anything except diabetes education and friendship.  Think about that for a minute.  I hope you’ll appreciate how unique that is.

They give with all they have, and ask for nothing in return except for us to share our experiences.   The cost of the conference is heavily subsidized by generous sponsors.  As consumers we would do well to recognize the companies that help make Friends for Life possible.

I appreciate the opportunity to learn so much from so many.

I appreciate the opportunity to create new relationships that change my life.

I appreciate the opportunity to cry without needing a reason.

I appreciate the opportunity to have the very core of my diabetes person embraced, recognized, empowered, and encouraged.

I appreciate the opportunity to play basketball with StefanRick, Gary, Bennet, Andy, Adam, Ben, and a bunch of young FFL hoopsters!  As hard as it is to break away from some of the social activities, playing ball with these guys is one of my favorite things.

Diabetes Scholars

Every person touched by type 1 diabetes deserves to experience Friends for Life.  The cost of travel and lodging put this conference out of reach for far too many people and families.  Diabetes Scholars Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization working hard to get more families to Friends for Life.  If you are in a position to help, please do so.  This conference will change the lives of anyone who attends.  If you have a website or blog somewhere, grab the button and link from my sidebar and consider putting up on your internet space.

More to Come

The idea of trying to capture all of what my 2011 Friends for Life experience was like is completely overwhelming.  Even two weeks later I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how incredible it was.  I’m going to keep writing little blurbs as I process, but I’m not going to put any time-frame on it.  My brain doesn’t work that way.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out the official report, photos, and other write-ups!

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[Disclosure - as a faculty member this year, CWD paid for my travel and lodging.  I was not asked to write or not write about my experiences, and there is no editorial control nor input outside of my heart and brain.]

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12 Responses to 2011 Friends for Life – Where to Start?

  1. Meagan says:

    Such a heartfelt and touching post Scott. I’m so glad the conference left you with such good memories. Like everything, there is both the good and the bad to life with diabetes…it’s a beautiful thing that we have the good to get us through the bad. Thanks for sharing all this info.

  2. Jess says:

    great post, scott! it was a powerful week, and i’m so glad i got to be there, and to meet you! :)

  3. Jen says:

    So great to have met you at FFL, Scott. What a great post. I share with you so many of your Contrasting Feelings. Thanks for putting them, so eloquently, into words.

  4. Stacey Nagel says:

    It’s these memories that bring us back year after year… for the last 9 years…

  5. Pam Loebner says:

    You stated exactly how we have felt since our first visit to FFL 10 years ago. Friends will ask why we return each year. We reply that there isn’t a choice, we need FFL.

  6. G-Money says:

    I cannot wait to go next year. We are already making plans.

  7. Great post Scott! Wish I could have been there… so many friends I hope to meet one day.

  8. shannon says:

    you’ve done a wonderful job of describing the warring emotions throughout the entire experience. thank you for sharing your perspective. :)

  9. Wendy says:

    Wow.

    So much to take it.

    I hope to make it there one day ;)

    (With my ORANGE bracelet.)

  10. Karen says:

    You told it all so well, Scott. It really is something that needs to be lived to be truly understood – but somehow you put so much of it into words. Pete and I still feel like a piece of us is still at FFL – and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

  11. [...] One of our favorite DOC buddies, Scott Johnson, attended the annual CWD Friends for Life event in Florida this summer, where new sessions for adults with type 1 proved this gathering is not just for kids! Scott was moved, claiming that each year, this event changes his life for the better. [...]

  12. […] My past posts about DSF include Lilly Diabetes – Connecting the Dots, Diabetes Scholars – Generosity In Action, Diabetes Scholars – Howl at the Moon, I Support: Diabetes Scholars Foundation, and 2011 Friends for Life – Where to Start? […]

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