Tagged: diabetes peer support

© Bea Sparks

The Diabetes UnConference: Scholarships Available for Las Vegas and More…

I would like to apologize in advance by what might look by an unnecessary overabundance of exclamation points. It’s the only way I could really and truly express my enthusiasm. In fact, I took some out when I edited.


© Christopher Angell

© Christopher Angell

Scholarships are available for 2016 The Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas (March 10 - 13, 2016), the first and only peer support idea exchange for all adults with diabetes (no matter what type) and those who love people with diabetes (i.e. spouses, significant others, parents…).

There are both travel (U.S. only for travel expenses) and room only scholarships.

Deadline to enter is September 30, 2020 and all it takes is a few minutes to share your thoughts in a form. (I don’t pick the recipients; a scholarship committee does after the identifying information is removed, so any attempts to bribe me with delectable gifts will be eaten without remorse. )

These scholarships are made available through The Diabetes Collective, Inc., the 501(c)(3) non-profit that runs The Diabetes UnConference and the gracious and generous private donors who want people impacted by diabetes to be able to get face-to-face peer support.

If you’re interested in donating to The Diabetes Collective for the scholarship fund, please click here:

The Diabetes Collective Scholarship Fund

 (It is tax-deductible!)

We will be offering scholarships for The Diabetes UnConference in Atlantic City, too. (September 10 - 13, 2016.) The announcement will come out in the spring of 2016. Hold on to your hats, which I am sure are fashionable and keep the sun off your gorgeous face.


2016 is going to be even more amazing, as we are adding a separate session track for people who love us. Sometimes called T3s or Type Awesomes, these are the people who love a person with diabetes and needs the same type of peer support people with diabetes get at The Diabetes UnConference.

If you are a spouse, a significant other, a parent, an adult sibling, or an adult friend who loves a person with diabetes, then register. While we will have some sessions that will be in the same room as those you love (PWD), you’ll have safe, private sessions to talk about the things you can’t discuss with a PWD: your fears, your frustrations, your ways of coping - learning from others and building a face-to-face connection for your own peer support.

Register, even if your own PWD may not want/or can’t attend.

Note: This conference is for adults only; no one under 21 will be allowed into the conference or conference area and there is no childcare available onsite. There is a fabulous conference for kids - CWD’s Friends For Life, where they can meet their peers. I love that conference and what it offers to kids. 


We are adding Friday pre-conference (or pre-UnConference?) sessions! These sessions will be included at no charge for registered attendees of The Diabetes UnConference and, if space is available, for non-attendees. More details to follow, but if you’re planning on heading to Las Vegas, you might want to see if you can stretch out your trip.

Multiple sessions will be available from 11:30am all the way to 4:00pm on Friday, March 10, 2016. No food or beverages will be served during these sessions, but there are a lot of great dining options and a convenience store in the hotel. We’ll cover a wide variety of topics, but you will need to sign up for these sessions in advance, so stay tuned. (A great way to stay on top of it all is to sign up for The Diabetes UnConference newsletter - we don’t sell or share your email address when you sign up, so your secret identity is safe with us.)


GO Room

GO Room King

Reserve your room now at the special rate The Flamingo Las Vegas has for The Diabetes UnConference 2016 attendees.

If you click this link, you’ll get pricing for each type of room and what’s included in your room rate. 

If you click this link, it will take you directly to the special reservation page… Presto!

Last year, people who didn’t know each other connected via The Diabetes UnConference FB page and saved some moola (and developed some wonderful friendships…), so if you’re looking for a way to save… just go to the FB page and ask!


© Bea Sparks

© Bea Sparks

We listened to the feedback from last year’s alumni and one of the things they suggested this year were casual opportunities to “do stuff together” before the official conference begins. It was just one of many great ideas that we’ll be incorporating into the 2016 conferences in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. (Our community is creative, insightful, and fun!)

Options will become available in the late fall to register for these “do stuff together” excursions , including a “let’s do outdoorsy stuff together,” “let’s do fast driving stuff together,” “let’s do just as exciting but more cultural stuff together,”, and some “let’s do a meal together.” These will be available on Thursday and Friday morning. These are not included in the registration; you’ll register separately, and are only available for registered attendees.


Resorts Two TowersResorts Casino in Las Vegas will be the hosting hotel for The Diabetes UnConference 2016 - Atlantic City from September 9 - 11, 2016. Yep. It’s a long ways off, but we’re already in planning mode. We’ll be one of the first conferences in their multimillion dollar expansion of their conference facilities!

Take a look at what’s on tap. Yep. It’s a long way off. Nice to have something to look forward to… And if you are planning on attending both Las Vegas and Atlantic City, let me know and you’ll get a discount code for the Atlantic City registration that will make you do a happy dance on the beach at Resorts Casino (because it’s right on the beach!)

If you’re just interesting in registering for Atlantic City… Boom! Here’s the registration link!

We’ve got more good things up our sleeves, which are currently rolled up and excited for 2016! Join us!

(And here are the exclamation points that I removed in editing, in case you wanted to see them: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m a little excited. Can you tell?)

One more thing… If you have Twitter, please spread the word:
Tweet: Scholarships to The #Diabetes UnConference LV available. Learn more here: http://ctt.ec/570rK+ #doc #dsma

The Diabetes UnConference - 2016 Las Vegas Registration is Open!

un-diabetes-conference-fullcolor-iconI am honored to announce that The Diabetes Collective, Inc. has opened registration for The Diabetes UnConference at The Flamingo Las Vegas from March 10 - 13, 2016. 

Trying something new is scary. Trying to put on a conference where the agenda isn’t truly defined until the participants are in the room together - and wondering if any participants will show up - is terrifying. I had my moments. More than my share of moments.

And you know what? I can’t wait for this to happen again. 

I’ve given you my first impressions about The Diabetes UnConference that happened in March. Others have, too. 

But what I didn’t tell you then was how I sobbed in my hotel room after the conference ended for almost an hour. Not from sadness, but from sheer elation. Happy sobs, because I had met people from all walks of life who wanted to learn from each other and build a net of support. These people astounded me with their frankness, their honesty, their willingness to open up they own Pandora’s Box, and their desire to help. I am a better person, not just a better person with diabetes, because of the people I met. 

We asked attendees to complete a post-conference survey. Here are some interesting things we learned:

62% of the attendees said that they were planning or already made a change in the way they manage their diabetes based on what they learned at The Diabetes UnConference.

Some of those changes were with the way they interacted with their medical care team, or asking for help from others, or staying motivated through peer support. Others planned on talking with their medical team about super bolusing or untethering or trying a new medical device or medication because of the experiences their peers had.

The sponsors were amazing. We couldn’t have done this without the support of Insulet, Dexcom, Medtronic, JDRF, Abbott, Tandem, Roche, Asante, and J&J/Animas. One of the attendees summed up pretty much how everyone felt:

“I know they were there to promote their brands, but I also appreciate the fact that they supported this event so enthusiastically.”

When asked what they enjoyed most about The Diabetes UnConference, the answers made my heart swell:

“The feeling of relief, of understanding, of connection. I also learned a ton of new ideas on how to better manage my diabetes or change the way I think about it. I also loved meeting others who have gone through experiences I am about to go through, so I can hear what they learned from it.”

“Sitting in a room filled with people I could relate to, and didn’t have to explain or justify what I was doing/eating/etc. Also, as much as I love my family, I really enjoyed having NO responsibilities for the weekend except for myself. It took some of the ‘weight’ off of my brain having to only worry about myself. And even then, I wasn’t too worried because I knew if something happened, I was surrounded by people who knew what to do to help me.”

“The sense of safe community we all created. We all really got to shed some diabetes weight. I felt lighter after, like I could go back out and face the world with diabetes again.”

“I have told everyone I know that this was THE best conference that I have ever attended in my entire life.  Lots of experiences were shared.  I got a perspective that I have not experienced before.  People were friendly and I took away ideas and stories that people told that I will hold with me forever.  Truly an awesome experience.”

Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and glitter. We had some bumps… Not enough time to deeply get into topics, not enough breaks for decompression during the event, and the need for more non-session social interaction. Plans are already underway to made the event even better. We also knew before we left that two things needed to be added for 2016:

  • We are adding a “People Who Love Us” registration for spouses, significant others, family members, and close friends of people with diabetes who need the same type of psychosocial support that we received this year. They need that same safe space, non-judgement zone where they can talk about how we can be total jerks sometimes and no one will tell them that’s wrong. They will have their own sessions, just like the PWDs, but we’ll also have some sessions together to talk about ways to help each other.
  • We are adding one on the East Coast. Attendees want to come from all over, but sometimes the cost for airfare is ridiculous. The Diabetes UnConference - East Coast will happen in the fall of 2016 and allow participants to choose either (or both). Contracts are being hammered out as I type.

The intimacy of The Diabetes UnConference is what makes it so special, so we are limiting registrations again. If you want to attend in Las Vegas, please register as soon as possible to take advantage of the Early Bird registration and secure your attendance. We’ve got a lot of fun things planned already for next year, along with some great ideas. Hope that you’ll join us!