Lilly Diabetes’ Once Upon A Time Contest Winners! #ffl12

20120703-103822.jpgDo you remember Lilly Diabetes’ Once Upon A Time Contest announced at last year’s Friends for Life Conference? I am pleased to announce that the Schuhmacher family won and is headed to this year’s Friends for Life Conference!

Congratulations to Meri, Ryan and boys. I know you’ll have a blast. Be sure to visit Gary Scheiner’s sessions and have a great time at the banquet! I wish we were headed back this year so we could meet in person!

Winners of Lilly Diabetes Once Upon a Time Contest Announced

Cha Cha-ing in the Pool | Just for fun #ffl11

There were lots of opportunity to dance at Friends for Life. The kids each had a session with DJ Miles where they learned the latest dance moves and really had a ton of fun. We danced at the banquet. We danced poolside. Colin went to a Tween dance social on his own and won a prize for extra special abilities. We danced and danced and danced.

Inspired by the adult crew, my trio has been incorporating their new dance moves not only on ground but in the water as well. So in response to Sara’s video (which I had no idea she was taping!) here’s a little smooth cha cha-ing…

Our new friend (for life), Mason | #ffl11

The Friends for Life conference was a definite success for us. This household gives it five thumbs up. Of my three children, two think it was equally fun as going to the theme parks. One thinks it was even better (and yes, you can probably guess which one that is).

Dave is behind the camera but there are plenty of versions with him in front of it.

One of the highlights of the week was D-Coaster Day (thank you Martin for coordinating!) It was so awesome to meet so many more tweet-peeps in person. Have I mentioned yet how tall Scott is and that he is indeed as incredibly good-looking as he claims? I have a hunch that with my sunglasses and pig-tails, I was a little unrecognizable at first and they just thought I was some strange lunatic running up and hugging them.

Now backing up a minute to the trip to the park: the bus was PACKED! Dave and I got split up amongst the many people squeezed on board. I chatted with the person next to me oblivious to those that boarded after us, and a little distracted by the Blunt Lancet t-shirts I saw on some of the people who were left at the bus stop because it had filled up (see shirts in above picture).

Dave tweets to me:

We had already noticed each other and were chatting it up – as much as anyone can chat it up when you have so many people packed between you. Michelle told me that Mason and husband, Matt, were on board too, though I couldn’t see them from where I sat.

We disembarked and got separated but were reunited at the Walt Disney statue with the other D-Coaster peeps. This is where Caleb and Mason met.

Caleb and Mason meet

Why I did not have the forethought to capture this moment on film in any way, I’ll never know. It was priceless. They shook hands and then showed each other their Pods and flashed each other their DexCom-filled SpiBelts as if it was part of a well thought out fraternity greeting. It was more like they were seeing each other again after several months than meeting for the first time. I could see how comfortable Caleb was when he is usually more self-conscious. It was heart warming.

Mason is full of life and does not seem the slightest bit self-conscious about anything. I dare anyone to not smile in this young man’s presence. His connection with all three of my kids was instant – the definition of fast friends.

Fast Friends

When the conference officially started and the kids were broken into groups, Mason and Lila landed in the same set of eight. I soon started to joke that they would one day be attending prom together. I couldn’t help think of the real life story of friends that had been made years earlier at FFL who did in fact become prom dates.

The days that followed were so jam-packed and fast-paced, that I found it hard to carve out time just to hang out with folks. Luckily our paths with the Golladays crossed several more times. I’m so glad we had the time that we did. As has been stated countless times before, the DOC people we meet online are as awesome if not more so in person. The Golladays are no exception.

We didn’t get a chance to officially say good-bye due to a very early departure flight. We’re hoping for a Skype session soon with our new IRL friends for life.

Meeting Team Type 1 Co-Founders | #ffl11

My trio with Team Type 1 Co-Founders Joe Eldridge and Phil Southerland

Phil Southerland was THE first type 1 athlete that I encountered after Caleb’s diagnosis. It started with a video, then a  magazine article  and then I scoured the internet looking for any information I could find on him.

I have always been and continue to be in awe of athletes with diabetes. I have the greatest admiration and respect for their commitment, discipline and achievement. What they do is the equivalent of magic to me.

The week before FFL, Colin completed a week of triathlete camp with Cliff Scherb. It was hard to know which one of the five of us was most excited to meet the co-founders of Team Type 1. It was definitely at the top of all our lists.

On the first day of the conference, we attended a Team Type 1 focus group and got to listen to three team members, including Joe Eldridge, talk about their experiences. I’ve read his story so many times – about the wager between him and Phil of whomever had the higher blood sugar at the end of a race would have to buy the other dinner, and how Joe ended up buying a lot of burritos. Hearing how that motivated him to keep tighter control of his blood sugars live and in person was just as inspiring as the first time I read it.

Then we got to speak to them up close and personal. It was like talking with friends. They are such real and genuine young men. So kind, so sincere. I had brought my copy of Not Dead Yet on the trip thinking I might have some spare time to read. Well that didn’t happen, but I’m so glad I brought it because Phil so graciously signed it for Caleb. A definite highlight for us all.

I was happy to have the chance to thank them for the impact they have had on us.  It is because of them – Phil and Joe, the first type 1 athletes that I came across – that I have never wondered about Caleb’s ability to achieve athletically. Their impact is so strong, that I’ve almost taken it for granted. It’s completely natural to me to expect that Caleb can do any sport he wants to. They, and so many after them, have shown all of us that there are no limits to what someone can attain, including someone living with type 1 diabetes. I have always known this for a fact.

Because of them.

More importantly, Caleb knows this. He never, ever considers whether diabetes will impact his ability to play or complete. He knows that he can do whatever he chooses. He knows he needs to care for his diabetes which means he needs to do things his teammates do not, but having it hold him back from doing what he enjoys is never something that enters his mind.

These are the only publications that rest on the cocktail table of my living room.

Team Type 1 has been and will always be a part of our lives. We’ve met so many great role models. They are examples for Caleb, as a type 1 diabetic, and Colin, as an aspiring triathlete. Thank you Phil and Joe and Cliff and Bradford for reaching out and sharing yourselves so openly with us.

Not only are these guys all amazing athletes, they are truly amazing people. I am so very honored and privileged to have had the chance to meet them. We all are.

If you haven’t seen the video, One Shot, the documentary of Phil and Joe and the team and their quest to get the first type 1 diabetic into the Tour de France, I strongly encourage you to.

When they are in the tour, we will definitely be watching and rooting for Team Type 1.

Colin's autographed poster that we managed to get home in tact.

Chance to win a trip to #FFL12

Today Lilly Diabetes, Disney Online and Disney Publishing are announcing all the details of their current collaboration. In addition to their book series and their online initiative, they, along with Denise Jonas, are announcing a chance to win a trip to Friends for Life 2012 through their Once Upon a Time Contest .

Read all the details their news release here.

To enter the Once Upon a Time Contest click here.

Caleb, a part of the CURE | #ffl11

Caleb was very excited to find his face in the CURE at the Diabetes Research Institute booth during the Friends for Life Conference. When someone found their picture in the banner, they were given a sticker claiming those bragging rights. Caleb wore his with great pride. He is in the lower right of the U – immediately to the right of the blue ribbon in the picture above.

Back to real life this week, Caleb chose to wear his Friends for Life shirt and was saddened to realize that the sticker got lost in the wash. Sorry, buddy. I was on a mission to turn the laundry around quickly when we got home.

Lila apparently heard Caleb’s disappointment and went to work without any of us knowing. Shortly thereafter, she presented Caleb with a replacement which he wore just as proudly.

You can see everyone who is a part of the CURE at the DRI site here.

Coco the Monkey – Sticking to a Smart Plan | #ffl11

Coco - take a close look at her left wrist

During the 2011 Friends for Life conference, Lilly Diabetes and Disney announced a new partnership. At the center is a new Disney character: a young monkey named Coco who is living with diabetes and will be featured in a children’s book series.

The first book is about Coco attending Goofy’s birthday party. At first, Goofy thinks that Coco can’t come because of her diabetes. But Coco and her mom explain that she can do everything the other guests can as long as she plans for it. Coco is a happy, active and well-adjusted young monkey who is excited to attend the party and eager to talk about her diabetes.

I’ve said many times that when it comes to food, healthy choices and moderation are good for anyone, not just those living with diabetes. I am thrilled to see this exact message delivered in this story.

Coco shows Goofy that she can go to the party, play games, win contests, and eat cake and ice ream.  This is an important message that we’ve seen delivered in other stories. Lilly Diabetes and Disney take the story a progressive step further.

Coco and other guests partake in but don’t overdo it when it comes to treats. Goofy however, because it’s his birthday, chooses to eat anything and everything he can. As a result of these choices, Coco and others are still going strong and playing and having fun at the end of the party. Goofy, on the other hand, doesn’t feel well and his friends have to take him home in the wagon he brought for Coco because he was worried she would need it because of her diabetes.

I think that is a fantastic message for kids today – all kids, diabetes or not. Make a plan that allows you to have fun while not going overboard, and stick to it.

This and other books planned in the series will be available through doctors’ offices.

Caleb read and enjoyed this book, but Caleb is 8 and has been living with diabetes for more than 4 years. Although I am pleased to have these messages reinforced with Caleb, his current struggles are a little different.

It seemed like Lilly and Disney were 10 steps ahead of me.  As I was flipping through the book thinking it would be so wonderful if they could do something in a novel form for kids a little bit older, they said exactly that – a series of novels for tweens is in the works and the first couple will be focused on sports.  This happens to be an area of great interest for Caleb right now.

Based upon the caliber of the production of Coco and Goofy’s Goofy Day, I am very excited about the novel series. As Tom Karlya, aka Diabetes Dad, put it, the impact of seeing a Disney character living with diabetes next to Mickey and Goofy, some of the most widely recognized cartoon characters in the world, is certain to be powerful.

In speaking with people from both Lilly Diabetes and Disney Publishing Worldwide, it was clear that they really want to get this right. So far, I think they are doing just that.

In addition to the books, Disney Interactive Media Group has also launched a section on specific to diabetes. You can take a closer look at

Lastly, they distributed a nifty Birnbaum pocket guide for Walt Disney World. It’s a great little summary of what you need to know for a visit to any of the WDW parks. At the end there are four tear-out pages, one for each park, with Type 1 Diabetes tips. I’m definitely keeping this handy for our next trip.

Disclosure: During the 2011 Friends for Life Conference, I attended an informative event about and received an educational takeaway from the Lilly/Disney collaboration. I was not compensated in any way nor was I asked to write about this event. The above opinions are expressly my own. 

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