Beyond Type 1 at Friends for Life


Orlando, FL – Beyond Type 1 attended Children with Diabetes’ 18th annual Friends for Life Conference this past week. In the heart of Disney World, our team met hundreds of families affected by type 1 diabetes, along with industry and healthcare professionals who are looking at how to improve the lives of those living with the chronic illness.

Panels were for the entire family: parents, grandparents, kids with type 1 and their siblings. Break out sessions allowed groups to share their story, ask questions and be a part of the larger type 1 community.

Social Media Manager, Dana Howe, participated on a panel dedicated to finding a type 1 community online through blogging and social media. She answered questions from what is the up and coming platform for social sharing and how has Beyond Type 1 grown to be the largest social media presence for type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the world.

In addition to education and the sharing of the newest technology and type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, families enjoyed unforgettable performances by country singer and song writers RaeLynn and Crystal Bowersox. Both performers have type 1 diabetes. The theme of the conference was Country Jamboree. After the Thursday evening awards, families shared dinner and danced the night away, toting cowboy hats and glow sticks.

The Beyond Type 1 booth in the exhibit hall featured Percy the Snail and Jerry the Bear, which were given away to lucky winners throughout the conference. Staff talked with families about Snail Mail, an international pen pal program that connects children with type 1 and showed people how Jerry the Bear educates others in type 1 management with his app and virtual diabetes tools.

The Beyond Type 1 Team also handed out Bike Beyond t-shirts, telling others about the epic ride 20 cyclists with type 1 are currently taking across the US. Children wrote letters to the team, asking questions and offering words of encouragement at this incredible undertaking. If you didn’t get Beyond Type 1 swag, Percy or Jerry the Bear at the event, you can still order them online.

When asked what Friends for Life meant to one child, he said, “I get to meet kids just like me.” He added, “and I ate Mickey Mouse ice cream.”

The camaraderie of the greater type 1 community was undeniable, and many had tearful goodbyes as ceremonies concluded. This year’s conference had 1900 in attendees (300 more than last year) and was sponsored by contributions by friends as well as industry grants such as the one Beyond Type 1 gave.

The Children with Diabetes’ Friends for Life Conference will be held again in the Disney Coronado Springs Resort next year over the July 4th holiday.

Learn more about Snail Mail!

WRITTEN BY Michelle Boise, POSTED 07/12/17, UPDATED 04/12/23

With an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco, Michelle believes in the power of words and looks for the human quality behind every story. She’s a writer, editor and content guru, having worked on both literary magazines and e-commerce platforms. Before joining the Beyond Type 1 team, she developed health-conscious articles for Fitbit.