Lynn Julian

In this week’s Participant Spotlight, we chatted with Lynn Julian. Lynn shared how she connected with NCHPAD, her favorite programs, and some of the amazing work she’s doing as a patient experience consultant!

Tell us about yourself.

I’m proud to be an award-winning speaker and patient consultant, an author in nine books and of 100+ articles (, a Boston Actress at ( and a Pop Superhero on 30+ CDs ( Connect with me on social media @LynnJulian007!

I’m also a patient experience consultant with corporations, foundations, researchers, politicians, and international leaders to form an accurate understanding of chronic illness, rare disease, and life with disability.

I live in Boston, Massachusetts, with my medical alert service dog, Dr. Smallz, and I love to connect with people on social at @lynnjulian007 @DrSmallzMD!

When did you connect with NCHPAD? 

I was referred to NCHPAD by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where I completed some of my physical, vestibular, and occupational therapy as an injured survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

What NCHPAD programs have you been part of?

So far, I’ve benefited from completing the MENTOR program and still enjoy participating in Coffee Club!

What did you like about the programs? 

I love that the MENTOR program addresses all aspects of good health: mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and resilience. It was a sweet surprise when a huge box of home exercise equipment arrived at my door – for me to keep – and all for free. Money is not an excuse not to exercise when the equipment is free!

Tell us why you would recommend a NCHPAD program or NCHPAD Connect to someone else.

I’d highly recommend NCHPAD Connect to my family, friends, and support group members because I’ve personally benefited so much from their programs already.

What brings you joy?

It’s the simple things in life that bring me joy: friends, food, music, movies, art, and most of all, my medical alert service dog, Dr. Smallz.

Too often, we take our blessings for granted as if they are rights rather than privileges. We complain so easily but are less quick to complement. We need to celebrate the small stuff and always be grateful. That is the way to happiness!

What else would you like us to know? 

In addition to my other work, in my “free time,” I’m also an advocate, activist, ambassador, speaker, and consultant. My daily struggles with chronic conditions lead me to volunteer as an Advisory Board Member of several international organizations: Strength To Strength (Patient Advisory Council), US Pain Foundation (Massachusetts Ambassador), American Migraine Foundation (Ambassador), Wego Health (Migraine Expert), Alliance for  Headache Disorders Advocacy (Team Leader, Headache On The Hill); Marfan Foundation, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Ambassador/Moderator), Rare Disease Legislative Advocate (Everylife Foundation), Rare Complain Program (Global Genes), Leaftopia (Director of Patient Advocacy), and Ravel.Health & Center For Lyme Action (Ambassador/Team Leader). The main message I want to promote is one of Inspiration and Hope.

How has this impacted your life? Is there anything you’ve learned from NCHPAD that has impacted your life?

Coffee Club has taught me that it’s never too late to change yourself, your mind, and your body. Every day is a new chance to do better and be the change you wish to see in the world!

Is there a particular person you’d like to give a shoutout, like an instructor, health coach, etc?

Haley Brown brightened every morning in the MENTOR program with her spirited energy and encouragement. She had me – and the whole group – looking forward to exercising. Now THAT is a great mentor!

Stephanie Ward also does an exceptional job leading Coffee Club. She wakes us up gently, makes us all feel seen and heard, and even sings to us to start our day. Love that smile!

In our latest Participant Spotlight, we chatted with Brandee Hicks. Brandee shared some of her favorite things from our programs, what brings her joy, and a little bit about her own work as a disability advocate.

Tell us about yourself.

I’ve lived in metro Atlanta for nearly 20 years, but I will always have a soft spot for my hometown of Detroit.

I am an experienced learning and public health researcher as well as a disability inclusion and accessibility advocate. And it is as an advocate that I use my public health experience and keen eye for identifying community needs that I started B. Out the Box. I launched B. Out the Box with the goal of changing the narrative around people with disabilities, exposing gaps in community accessibility, and celebrating innovative solutions for creating environments that are open to people of all abilities.

When did you connect with NCHPAD?

It was a few years ago when I was looking to build my network around disability advocacy work as well as possible job leads. A former colleague introduced me to Amy Rauworth with the Lakeshore Foundation. I met with her to talk about work within the disability space and building a network. She talked about NCHPAD and other avenues. I started doing some research and did a few NCHPAD exercise videos online here and there.

However, I learned about Movement-2-Music (M2M) through an Instagram ad! I saw a post about the program, so I reached out, and that’s what got the ball rolling over this past year. I did the screening for M2M, but my blood pressure was up so I couldn’t participate in that yet. Lori, who I talked to about M2M, told me about MENTOR, and I participated in the cohort that started in October 2022. I’m so grateful to Lori for telling me about the program!

What NCHPAD programs have you been part of?

MENTOR and NCHPAD Coffee Club.

What did you like about them?

Right away I noticed how comprehensive and well-planned MENTOR was – and that hooked me immediately. It’s hard to believe that all the knowledge, equipment, and time that I received was at no cost to me. The programs took away any barriers or excuses that I could make, and I appreciate that I could participate from home since I don’t drive.

I also liked having a schedule to get me into a routine and I had something to look forward to. It helped me feel like I “had a life” and had a group that I belonged to.

It’s difficult for me to identify which component in MENTOR I got the most out of because they were all so good! Mindfulness with Tara challenged me because this is an area where I struggle the most sometimes.

I would say that I was most surprised about what I learned from Lacey about nutrition because I tend to pay attention to my diet and read labels and thought that I had it covered. However, I learned so much about the types of fiber, the 5 areas to focus on when identifying a healthier option, and the safety tips and recipes were really helpful.

I also really enjoyed the coaching sessions with Carla. They helped reinforce everything and were a great way to cap off the week.

It was also good to have a time set aside during the day to get some exercise in, and I liked having access to John Ream’s videos.

In addition, I really appreciate that I still have access to all the resources plus some bonus information and exercises in Healthie. The instructors still respond if I ping them in the chat with a question or note!

Tell us why you would recommend a NCHPAD program or NCHPAD Connect to someone else.

I have told other people about NCHPAD, and I will continue to do so. There’s nothing to lose and so much to gain. It’s an opportunity to enhance key areas in their life (e.g., mindset, fitness, and connection) and they can do it all from the comfort of their own home. I’m not aware of anywhere else a person with a disability can go to access the quality or quantity of support and services that are available through NCHPAD.

What brings you joy?

I’m a research junkie so I get excited when I find or learn something new. I love reading, watching movies and ATL football with my husband, good food, and music.

I also enjoy engaging in activities where I can share my lived experience and insight to help underserved populations and improve healthcare experiences for all. I have done this as an activist involved in legislative and policy efforts, a patient family advisor, and a PCORI merit reviewer.

What else would you like us to know?

I’m sold on NCHPAD and look forward to all their programs because I know that it will be useful and engaging. I’m also currently in the UAB Arts in Medicine writing for healing program. I know that this is external to NCHPAD, but the impression is so strong that I knew that it would be worthwhile, and it has been a valuable experience and has helped me find another tool to use in my journey.

How has this impacted your life? Is there anything you’ve learned from NCHPAD that has impacted your life?

Besides the education and resources, I would say having a community or network has made these groups most meaningful for me. Although I may not talk much during the session or connect outside the group, it’s great to know that they’re there and that I’m adding to my support team.

Is there a particular person you’d like to give a shoutout, like an instructor, health coach, etc?

I’ve been blessed to connect with an amazing group of people throughout these programs and it hasn’t even been a year yet. Everyone has been so awesome, and I appreciate all the staff, instructors, and coaches that I’ve met. I would love to highlight Stephanie Ward not only for her work with NCHPAD Coffee Club but also for her responsiveness and openness even outside of the club. She is a warm beam of light I’m grateful that we have connected.

MENTOR Spotlight

MENTOR is NCHPAD’s 8-week program focused on physical, mental and emotional health for individuals with an existing disability or a recent diagnosis. We recently sat down with MENTOR participant Quatrina Thurmon, who shared what she loved about the program and how it helped improve every aspect of her life.

Watch her story or continue reading below the video.

“MENTOR taught me how to live life again, because I’ve been through so much. I’ve had a traumatic brain injury, two open heart surgeries, two heart attacks and two strokes. To go through what I’ve been through recently with a bunch of deaths in my family – close loved ones – to taking care of my mom, and also trying to take care of myself, too. It’s been a journey, but I’m still here, I’m still pushing and I’m still striving. And I can truly say that being in MENTOR has really helped me get focus and stay focused. But at the end of the day, I’m me!

MENTOR taught me how to redirect my life because MENTOR is about mindfulness. It’s about your emotions. It’s about nutrition, getting myself back to exercising, getting myself back to sitting down and thinking – and thinking about what I’m thinking about. With the mindfulness, it helped me to stay focused and helped me to think about who I am and what I am. It helped me to really get to know myself even better.

And I had to be committed to the exercise program. And at first I didn’t want to do it, but because of my commitment to the program, I had to do it which helped me out in the long run.

The nutrition part taught me how to really read the labels and know the good carbs from the bad carbs. Because, you know, all the time we think we are cooking healthy, but we’re not cooking and eating healthy, the right way.

Overall, again, like I said, I learned how to love me. It’s very important to love yourself, because if you don’t love yourself, how can you expect someone else to love you? And that’s what’s wrong with the world today. We don’t have enough love.

I really would recommend the MENTOR program to anyone that’s willing to go through it. At first, I was very hesitant, and I thought it was very time consuming. But as I got into it, and I realized it was to help me. And I realized that people who were in the club with me, we shared a lot of testimonies and stuff, I realized it helped them, too.

So if you have the opportunity to get into MENTOR, run for it. Run for it because it’s going to help you in the long run. It’s going to help you in every aspect of your life: mentally, socially, physically, emotionally, it’s going to help you.”


Ready to join MENTOR? Have questions?
Give us a call at 866-866-8896 or email us at

Marie Spotlight

In our latest Participant Spotlight, we chatted with Marie Granucci. Marie shared what it was like growing up in the 80s and 90s with cerebral palsy, how social media and NCHPAD programs have helped her find a community, and more!

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, etc.

I’m from Branford, Connecticut, and I have cerebral palsy. I am very active on social media in the disability community. But about ten years ago, I felt lost and didn’t know what I would feel like as an adult with CP.

As a child and a teen, my parents were always supportive, so I was in the back seat while they took the lead in making sure I had the proper education and therapy to make sure I was as independent as I possibly could be.

When I became an adult, I felt lost. I turned to social media and United Cerebral Palsy (UPC) for help, and I have just blossomed since then. I went on Facebook and found that there are so many CP support groups on Facebook. I liked some of them, but I wanted to make them better, so I started my own CP support group on Facebook.

I also started a blog called “Work Out with Cerebral Palsy,” and I talked about working out in the gym or exercising related how it helps with the CP. All of a sudden people were commenting on my blogs about life with CP. So I took “Work Out with CP” and made it about my entire life – not just working out in the gym, but everything from getting up in the morning to going to bed.

Everything is a workout for us. It takes 3-5 times more energy to do things that are easy for a nondisabled person. Putting on socks is a great example. It’s so easy for nondisabled people to put socks and shoes on. They don’t have to think about it, but it takes me up to an hour to put socks and shoes on. This is where the whole concept of where my blog came from. Everything we do and the energy we’re consumed with to try to do the most mundane things. I even have it tattooed on my forearm. Now I have a blog called “6 Legs to Independence.”

When did you connect with NCHPAD?

About a year and a half ago, I was on another work site signing up for a Zoom to see RJ Mitte, the character from Breaking Bad who has CP. I found some MENTOR information, and I signed up. I loved it and just blossomed from it. I have a lot of my writing from MENTOR, and I want to put them on my blog, but I just have so many that I have to get organized!

What NCHPAD programs have you been part of?

Both MENTOR and Coffee Club.

What did you like about the programs?

I like how in Coffee Club we’re all from the US but from different parts. We all get to share how we look at our individual disabilities.

We have people who have had their disability from birth or people who have gotten their disabilities from accidents or different situations in life. It’s nice to connect with other people and see things from broad perspectives, like how different people look at different parts of disabilities. No one is “woe is me” or “what am I doing here?” Everyone wants to be there and learn from everyone else.

In MENTOR, liked every class, but I really like the journaling portion with my Health Coach.

Tell us why you would recommend a NCHPAD program or NCHPAD Connect to someone else.

NCHPAD programs make you grow as a person. It helps you understand that there are other disabilities besides yours – and it makes you get out of your comfort zone.

What brings you joy?

I like to get my hands dirty. I’m an artist. I love to write. I love to knit. I love to color. I love to work out and go for walks.

I love knowing I have my independence. It took me so long to be able to live on my own. A funny thing is that three months after the pandemic started, I got a letter saying that there was an apartment for me. I was finally living on my own but was locked in my bedroom for a year or two.

How has this impacted your life? Is there anything you’ve learned from NCHPAD that has impacted your life?

I’ve learned to look inside myself and not just look outside myself. This helps me understand what makes me tick and what I want to accomplish. All of the classes helped me accomplish this.

My family was very open with me about my disability. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, it was hard because I was 1 of 2 people with a disability in my school at the time. My family had to fight for accessibility in schools and the fact that teachers thought I was just taking up space and wasn’t capable of learning or graduating high school. I did graduate high school and I’ve graduated from college twice.

Is there a particular person you’d like to give a shoutout, like an instructor, health coach, etc?

Lacey, my dietitian in the MENTOR program helped me a lot along the way with my diet journey. Stephanie Ward, who runs Coffee Club, also has been great. Ingrid Pfau on the video team has been lots of fun to work with.

Curious how you can join one of our free health and wellness programs?
Give us a call! 866-866-8896
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NCHPAD Connect, our online portal, houses a growing community of classes and specialty programs for people with mobility limitations. These virtual programs can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and are tailored specifically for each individual participant.

“Joining NCHPAD Connect is easy,” says participant Deanna Deschenes, who lives with multiple sclerosis. “The programs help with your mind, body and soul, and help you become a more whole human being.”

Watch as Deanna Deschenes shares how to sign up – and what to expect after you do.

How to sign up

  • Fill out this quick survey.
  • A NCHPAD Call Center employee will reach out to learn more about your specific goals and needs.
  • We’ll connect you to free, online courses and resources.

What you’ll gain access to

  • Free, online adapted programs like MENTOR.
  • Wellness boxes for each adapted program you join.
  • NCHPAD Coffee Club along with free coffee and snacks delivered right to your door.
  • More new specialty programs we’re developing to meet your specific goals and needs.

“I’ve participated in several of these specialty programs, and I’ve walked away from each and every one of them with something positive – something to add to my toolbox, something that helps me be a better me,” Deanna said.

Join NCHPAD Connect today, or email if you have any questions.