If you’re looking for a ray of sunshine, a smiling face and a conversation with someone with a very positive attitude, then find Julienne Dallara at the Abilities Expo. Julienne has Transverse Myelitis, but it doesn’t slow her down.
Julienne not only sells booth space at the Expo, but she also serves the disaster consultant for any exhibitor who has a problem, the unofficial office of information for the Expo attendees, the official Expo hostess and the queen of hospitality for exhibitors and attendees. She is also a valued Cure Medical Advocate.
For 15 years, Julienne sold accessible vehicles and was very happy in that business. Then she got a call from David Korse, president and CEO of the Abilities Expo, who explained that the Expo was interested in hiring someone with a disability to join their team. Julienne never had met David, but her friend, Myra Fornos, a well-known attorney in the disability community, was friends with David and had given him Julienne’s name.
She says, “I came onboard as an independent contractor and understood that part of the job was sales, which was what I’d done for the vehicle company. The bigger part of my position was to help people from my community to learn about all the new products and services available to them, and I was excited to do that.”
Julienne Led the Good Life as a Performer
Julienne had been an actress, a singer and a dancer on stage and in film, after receiving a B.A. from Mills College in Oakland, California. She’d worked in London, England, New York and Los Angeles. She was a lifeguard, dancer and massage therapist, and was in really good physical condition because of working out every day.
“I was 36 years old with a 3-year-old daughter and a 7-month-old son,” Julienne explains. “I had been a dancer and an actress and had enjoyed a great career when one day in 1996, I woke up paralyzed from the waist down. I’d been completely healthy with no medical issues. After 10 days in the hospital, I told my doctors, ‘I don’t care what you call this paralysis, but I need to get home and take care of my children.’”
Eventually Julienne was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a disease that little was known about at that time. Today it’s believed to be an immune dysfunction like lupus, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis – caused by the immune system eating away the myelin, the insulation on your nerves.
Although Julienne was paralyzed from the time she arrived at the hospital, her doctors told her she should get better and get out of the wheelchair with time. Her doctors said that transverse myelitis usually would hit one time, and then the rule of three would apply: 1/3 would get completely better, 1/3 would get somewhat better, and 1/3 would show no improvement at all.
Julienne gradually improved to walking with a walker and with canes before suffering a relapse.
At that time, the only treatments for transverse myelitis were steroids or chemotherapy, which caused her to lose all of her hair and added 60 pounds to her body weight.
“While I was going through chemotherapy, my husband told me that he hadn’t signed on to having a wife in a wheelchair,” Julienne says. “He left emotionally, so I left physically.”
“Suddenly I had these two little babies to provide for and raise. I applied to a charity for help and received the money to buy a van, so I could go to work. The company I bought the van from then offered me a job as a sales person for adaptive vans. I was off and running. I was still selling vans 16 years later!”
“Then in October, 2012, I started working also for the Abilities Expo and have been working there for almost five years. Being an independent contractor is great for people like me, who want to work multiple jobs and work them all from home.”
Julienne Dallara Believed She Would Walk
“When told she’d never walk again, Julienne said, “Yes, I will. I have a background in kinesiology, dance, anatomy and healing with massage.”
I told God, ‘Well, if you’re going to paralyze somebody, I am the most qualified.’
“As I lay there in my hospital bed, I thought about how the body worked. I had to perform the dance moves I’d done all my life to get the synapses to fire and make my muscles work.”
“I began to dance in my brain while in bed, I’d walk, dance and act like I always had – only I was doing it with my mind, instead of my body. I believed I mentally could make those neurons connect to my muscles and perform the tasks I called on them to perform. I felt I could make new neurological pathways for the pathways that weren’t working anymore.”
“Using that system of mind over matter, I was able to walk with a walker, and for a while I was walking with canes. Then there was the chapter when I was high above on the flying trapeze.”
Julienne Dallara believed she Can Fly
“A girlfriend of mine was learning to be a trapeze artist, and I watched her practice,” Julienne recalls. “One of the instructors said, ‘I bet we could get you up there on the trapeze,’ and I said, ‘Okay, let’s try it.’ I couldn’t climb the rope ladder, so I was strapped into a safety harness.
Then the riggers – the men who set up the equipment for the trapeze artists – pulled me 30 feet up to the platform that the trapeze artists left from and returned to while performing. I had a net under me.
The hardest part for me when I was on the trapeze was returning to the platform, which required my pulling my legs up to a 90 degree angle and dropping them down to swing back to the platform. That was a difficult task because my hip flexors were paralyzed. But eventually I performed that task.
After working on the trapeze for about 6 months, I could tell I was getting stronger each week – especially in my legs, my abs, my arms and my back. However, I never did learn to “fly,” to do a transfer from one trapeze to another. Being a circus performer wasn’t the goal anyway.”
Why julienne is A Cure Medical Advocate
“The people from Cure Medical are big supporters of the Abilities Expo,” Julienne explains. “I used to get my catheters from people who knew what they were doing, but now due to Medicare changes, I had to get catheters from companies that often don’t know what a catheter is or care how much I depend on them. I received some of the worse catheters ever from those kinds of companies.”
“Tired of dealing with uncaring companies and inferior catheters, I stopped by the Cure booth at the Los Angeles Abilities Expo and talked with company founders John Anderson and Bob Yant. John suggested that I try Cure’s products after I told him about my frustration with other brands.”
“I received some samples, and I was blown away at how compact the Cure catheters were, and how very well they worked. The catheters already had lubrication on them, so they weren’t messy and didn’t get all over my hands and my clothing.”
I found Cure’s catheters to be a far superior product than what I’d been using.
JULIENNE USES THE CURE TWIST®, a READY-TO-USE CATHETER FOR WOMEN
Appearance isn’t the only advantage of the Cure Twist®. The ready-to-use Cure Twist® Catheter for Women also offers all these benefits and user-driven innovations:
- Female catheter, available in French sizes 8-16
- Easy, twist-off cap in a small, portable configuration
- Smooth polished eyelets for increased comfort
- No Drip/No Mess pre-lubrication
- Attractive discreet dispenser – similar to cosmetics
- High quality materials – not made with DEHP*, BPA, or natural rubber latex offer peace of mind
- Support of research in pursuit of a cure for SCI and CNS/D possibly offers the best benefit of all!
To request free samples of the Cure Twist® Ready-to-Use Catheter or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
“Before the company started coming to the Expo, I never had heard of Cure Medical. I was impressed that the company gives 10% of their net income for medical research. I said to myself, ‘These people are awesome.’
I wrote a note to Lisa Wells, the vice president of marketing at Cure Medical, and told her, ‘Your products are the best I ever have used. Your company also has the best philosophy and is willing to give back to help find cures for many of the problems that people with disabilities have. What can I do to help?’
Lisa answered, ‘Would you like to be a Cure Advocate to help others learn about our products?’
I told Lisa, ‘I would be happy to be an advocate! The word has to get out about Cure Medical, its products and the company’s willingness to try and find a cure for not only spinal cord research, but also the other diseases and injuries that cause people to rely on wheelchairs.’”
We’re united in pursuit of a Cure!
Learn more about the Cure Commitment here.
Julienne’s Hopes for the Future
“One day soon, I hope to provide more opportunities for people at the Abilities Expo,” Julienne explains. “There’s a ride called I Fly that produces huge blasts of air coming up from below a person that supports your body and makes you feel like you’re free-falling, simulating skydiving. You spread out your arms and legs, and you feel the sensation of skydiving without a parachute. The people I’ve talked to believe that they can enable people with disabilities to fly in these cylinders, and we want to bring one to the Abilities Expo some day.
“As far as me personally, my children are out of the house. Hillary graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor in integrated medicine, and Nick is halfway through college with a degree in psychology and an interest in biology and brain chemistry. I married an awesome guy 15 years ago named Dan Burns. We’re moving out to Camarillo, California, up in the hill country and getting a house where I’ll have an office. Finally Dan and I will have enough space so we won’t run into each other, because we’re both in wheelchairs.”
“I consider myself the head cheerleader for the next great thing that comes down the pike for people with disabilities.”
“Getting that first van changed my life dramatically, because I didn’t have to haul my wheelchair in and out of the car. I thrive on meeting newly injured people who come to the Abilities Expo and are totally blown away by all the new products available for them to help them live more active lives.
They have fun at the Expo too and learn that their lives aren’t over. They realize, ‘Hey, I still can find and date a cute girl or guy, get married, realize that sex still exists and it’s great! I’ve been able to do extraordinary things in life, and I’m always looking for more opportunities not only for me, but also for other people with disabilities.”
Meet Julienne at an Abilities Expo near you!
Join Julienne and Cure Medical at the Chicago Abilities Expo on June 23-25, 2017, or one of the other events taking place this year around the country. We would love to meet you, and welcome you as part of the Cure Nation!