While I’m a believer that it is never too late to experience your first Friends for Life conference, I do believe that the earlier you get there the better.

Christel & Scott

Christel & Scott

To this day I can vividly remember walking into the opening banquet years ago and being stopped in my tracks by how big it was. I couldn’t see the other side of the room — it was lost over the horizon. There are two or three giant projectors showing the main stage and podium because some of the tables are so far away. So many tables, each seating 10-12 people, and they are all full. How is it possible that this many people could come together for type 1 diabetes? It blew my mind.

I’d been to other conferences, and have seen many more people, but never in my life had I seen so many people connected specifically to type 1 diabetes in one place. Over 3500 altogether. Families, educators, faculty, staff, celebrities, and more, all converging on Orlando for a week of education and inspiration. It blew my mind.

I was stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to convince my legs to cooperate with walking.

I know it sounds a bit weird, but that is one of my favorite memories of Friends for Life.

Each year following I enjoy a quiet moment in the corner, just taking it all in.

I also experience a bit of heartbreak when I see a tiny baby with a pump site or CGM sensor on. It hurts me that they and their families have to deal with diabetes. I hate it.

But then I realize that they are at Friends for Life! They will grow up entirely different than I did. They will have so many resources that I didn’t have. They will have people to connect with.

Growing up with diabetes wasn’t bad for me, but I was totally alone.

Just alone.

Alone sucks.

Friends for Life makes sure these people are never, ever, alone. That is one of the greatest gifts ever and can dramatically change the way life unfolds for these people.

After each conference there is a “conference report” that summarizes each day of the conference. One of my favorite lines from this year’s report? Laura sends a message that gives me chills:

To the FFL adults – type 1 folks and significant others – welcome home.

CIP_4240

Maya kicked my butt in cards…

 

13 Responses to Just Alone – Friends for Life

  1. Natalie says:

    Each and every FFL conference fills my heart and I carry it with me for the wholw year both as a person w T1, a spouse of a T1 as well as a CDE.

    You, Scott, are part of tha magic that makes it all happen!

  2. zip says:

    I’ve never been to a diabetes conference, but I’ve been thinking I should try to make it to one soon. Maybe next year’s FFL is the one I’ll shoot for. Would love to finally meet you, Scott!

  3. Laura did sum it up pretty awesome with the ‘welcome home’. I remember too the awe I felt at our first conference back in 07, walking into the banquet hall for opening remarks and seeing a sea of people. Unlike your initial reaction I wanted to run in and meet every person at every table and likely would have done just that if I didn’t have 3 little ones and a hubby in tow. It is true my kids will grow up in a different world than you and so many other FWD. One of the reasons they will grow up in such an amazing world of D is because of folks like you and the CWDFFL crew – sharing knowledge, advice, stories of success, stories of struggling – just sharing. My kids will have more than many did 15,20,30 years ago and I have more because I have you (and many other FWD).

  4. That first year we were there was amazing. Your post put a huge smile on my face, and brought back great memories. I spent a lot of time being completely alone too, well into adulthood. How different my life with t1 is now though, and FFL is such an important part of not being alone anymore.

  5. Thanks for this blog, Scott! I enjoyed it so much, and wished I had gone to the previous 13 FFL conferences. My wife and I hope to be there in 2015. It will be nice to see you again!

    ~Richard

  6. StephenS says:

    Scott, I like how you described your experiences then and now. Glad the conference was a great experience for you.

  7. Kelley says:

    Great post Scott!

  8. Michelle Rago says:

    Wonderful post. You played your cards well, Scott. You have a new 6 year old friend for life! And Maya is a prime example of a child who, having been diagnosed at one month old, will never know a day where she is alone with her diabetes.

  9. Here Here!! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Most amazing experience ever…..

  10. Shara Bialo says:

    I love this post! But I hate that I grew up in Orlando and went to college in Miami and never heard about this conference until I moved to the Northeast (what gives?). I’m going to have to make it down to that conference at some point in my life — better late than never, it sounds like! Thanks for sharing the love :)

  11. Tarra says:

    Scott this year’s friends for life was incredible as a first timer. I know right after I arrived the first person I see is you and I was so excited to finally meet you in person. It was such a wonderful experience. The way you described it fits many of our experiences.

  12. Bing Shin says:

    Alone really sucks! Glad that T1D online community enlightens me very much :)

  13. Karen says:

    You’ve given me chills too, because it really is like home and a feeling of being surrounded by family. I too grew up feeling totally alone with diabetes – and I’m so thankful that everyone who attends FFL never has to feel that way again.

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