Updated: Jun 15, 2022
The story of how Chronic Warrior Coaching + Collective began...
I’m often asked how I decided to start Chronic Warrior Coaching + Collective. It’s been an absolute labor of love and the culmination of a very winding path over the years…I mean life isn’t ever a straight trajectory, now is it?
In 1985, I graduated with a B.S. in Health Ed and Biology from Auburn University - yes, I went to school with Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley and might have even crossed paths with Tim Cook…I mean we were there at the same time! (To this day, my claim to fame is dancing with Bo and having a class with Sir Charles!)
Upon graduating, I realized that teaching wasn’t for me - at least not then. I had decided to volunteer with the Children’s Hospital of Alabama working with the Miracle Network Telethon. I fell in love with the atmosphere but had no idea what I could do. When I stumbled upon Medical Social Work as a job, I jumped into the next steps immediately. Now, I knew I needed a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) … what I hadn’t quite realized is that the University of Alabama was the ONLY school in the state with that program. Any southerner will know why that was a BIG deal!! But, I sucked it up and made my way, working every weekend for a year in the local level one trauma center while taking full time classes. I was honored to receive an appointment as the social work intern with the Pulmonary Department at UAB pediatrics. This was one of nine such positions across the country!
After graduating, I was fortunate to be offered a pediatric social work position at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children (& Women, at the time). I was one of two pediatric social workers (before our staff grew) and covered everything that wasn’t PICU or NICU! This gave me a vast amount of experience with a multitude of diagnoses, patients, and families; everything from Leukemia to HIV/AIDS, to Cystic Fibrosis, and much, much more. The following years brought jobs at Hospice, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Johns Hopkins Outpatient Clinics, and private practice therapy. After having my babies, I thought my days as a social worker were done, however, life has a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect them.
After an unexpected divorce, I was asked by my children’s Montessori School to take a class. It was a great opportunity to learn more and earn a Montessori Certification for ages 6-9. A couple of years later, I co-founded an Enrichment Center where I taught lots of fun classes including a little Montessori-based Homeschool class. This is where I met the inspiration behind the Collective! Sadie was 5 years old and had been diagnosed with multiple auto-immune disorders and public school just wasn’t a good fit. I learned so much from Sadie and her mom over the years. So much so that I felt it was time to re-enter the world of pediatric chronic illness/rare disease. After many chats at Starbucks with Sadie’s mom, Dawn (co-founder of Chronic Warriors Org), I decided to start my own program. But what?? Dawn had seen a lot of competition amongst teen and young adult chronic illness warriors on social media… clearly just needing to be understood and have their voices heard. She asked if I’d consider working with that age group and my immediate response was a firm NO! But, she asked if I’d think about it and, for her, of course I would.
I began researching programs for teens/young adults with various diagnoses. While I found a number of in-person support groups based upon a specific diagnosis, I couldn’t find anything that really brought them together across illness groups. I remember the exact moment… if it’s ever happened to you, you know THAT moment…when the light bulb comes on and you realize it’s up to you to make it happen. Thus began Chronic Connection, an online platform for teens and young adults to come together for virtual pajama parties and hangouts and to have their voices heard! About a year later, we started the Card Swap and opened it up to all ages. To date, we’ve had participation from warriors in 29 countries across the world! We changed the name to Chronic Warrior Collective and in October of 2019 we opened up our private Social Club Network for ages 13 and up.
Having coached many of the teens and young adults from the virtual events over the years, in January 2021, I decided to officially launch Chronic Warrior Coaching and offer services to the public. And, we recently launched Group Coaching in addition to Individual (1:1) Coaching!!
Currently, I’m a single mom to two young adults both living with long-term illness. And I’m a warrior too. When I’m not coaching, building a new program, or writing a post, you’ll likely find me dancing to my favorite songs in the kitchen while trying out a new recipe. And if it’s a Saturday during football season, you can bet you’ll find me in front of the TV cheering on my Auburn Tigers and watching SEC football all day!!
Whether you’re looking to work with me as a Coach, Consultant, Speaker, or simply to connect, I’d love to meet you!! Just drop me an email and say hello!
War Eagle!! 🧡🦅🧡