Meet Our Walk MS Ambassadors
Special thanks to our 2013 Walk MS Ambassadors, Daryl Bryant and Nicole Pica!
Please read their stories below to learn how they are doing something about MS now!
Daryl H. Bryant was born on May 23, 1977 to loving and caring parents. Daryl grew up with an older sister, and lived in a small rural New Jersey town, called Byram Township, for seventeen years. In 2002, Daryl left a NYC-based company and established Hudson Horizons, a professional Web site design, development, and Internet marketing agency that provides innovative and quality services to businesses and corporations of all sizes. Daryl firmly believes in giving back to the community and exemplifies this by volunteering and making financial and other contributions to a number of charities over the years, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Westside Infant and Teen Parent Program, National MS Society, Montel Williams MS Foundation, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, and the American Red Cross. Daryl was first diagnosed with MS during his time working at a software company in NYC, but chose to deny his symptoms until shortly after beginning Hudson Horizons. The symptoms of MS could easily have stopped him in his tracks, but Daryl’s proactive role in his life and positive outlook prevented MS symptoms from taking over. Today, Daryl is a happily married man to his wife Shannon and father to his son Jack, and another child on the way. Daryl H. Bryant is an entrepreneur, public speaker and a very active individual in his community. He is living a happy, healthy and successful life with MS and would like to inspire others that they can do the same. Daryl has written a book, MS – Living Symptom Free, to share his story and reach larger audiences in order to help and motivate others with MS or those affected by it. He also has a Facebook page with over 20,000 fans. The page has become a wonderful support group for MS patients, family members, and caregivers alike.
“I may not have been given a choice in the cards I was dealt, but I was certainly given the options in how to play them. I have elected to make certain that my MS does not rule my life. By making the right choices and changes every day, I have made sure that I am the one in control of my life.”
I was diagnosed with MS in 2010, 13 days before my 40th birthday. I knew nothing about this disease; by nothing I mean I told my neurologist to "just schedule the surgery, cut off the lesions and let's move on." After he looked at me like I had 5 ears, I realized I needed to educate myself and take on fighting this illness with all I had.
Unfortunately, MS had a different plan. I spent the first 6 months after my diagnosis in and out of the hospital 4 times. Every time I would get one exacerbation under control, a new one would start. During those 6 months I was battling optic neuritis, tingly and numb hands and fingers 24/7. I lost the feeling in my calves and toes. My bladder function was severely compromised and the fatigue was so bad, I would get to the point that if I didn't listen to my body and nap when it said so, I would get so nauseous it would make me vomit.
I was feeling defeated and helpless. I couldn't control this disease and that was not acceptable to me. My neurologist advised me that I needed to start disease modifying medicines and would need to inject them. I said: "That's not going to happen, I don't do needles." Fortunately for me, I have an amazing neurologist, who I trust immensely and who also does not sugarcoat things or coddle me. His reply was: "Okay, that is your choice, however, if you want to give this disease the fight of its life, I would go with my plan." Lucky for me, I stopped being stubborn and listened.
2011 was a better year. No exacerbations, but I still had symptoms daily and the fatigue was getting worse. My doctor decided that I needed to stop working. I had been working at the same law firm for 21 years in Manhattan. I couldn't stop working as that was a part of my life. I couldn't give into MS. I fought it for a while and then realized I was doing more harm than good. I was spending 16 hours of my day commuting and working in a very fast-paced, stressful environment. In April, 2012, I resigned. It was one of the hardest days of my life. Not only because I loved my job, but also because I didn't want MS to start controlling my life. I didn't want to let it win.
It took a few months, but I realized that MS was not winning; I was. Although this may not be the path I thought I would be on, it is the path I was given and I had to make the best of it. I did my first Walk MS in 2010, one month after I was diagnosed, and raised an amazing amount of money. In the two years following, my fundraising increased as did my Walk Team and I realized that I could help make a difference if I could reach out to others as much as possible.
I started a Facebook group called "Attitude Is Everything," my team name, and started reaching out to people. I suddenly realized how something so simple as allowing people to ask questions, vent, express themselves, made a huge difference. It hit me that maybe this is the path that I am supposed to be on. Trying to help others; to show them the positive when it seems only the negative keeps hitting them. I've always believed that staying positive is a huge part of keeping your body healthy. Don't misunderstand me, I am not always roses and butterflies. Some days I want to scream and I do. Then I dust myself off and start over fighting this illness.
Hurricane Sandy hit me hard. I was trapped in my house for 3 days, surrounded by 6 feet of water. No power and no heat. Friends and family came on day 3 and rescued me. My house is still uninhabitable. Seeing all the devastation, families ripped from their homes, living in shelters, was heartbreaking. I started a donation drive. People started dropping off bags of clothes, toiletries and supplies and my friends and I started delivering them to shelters, trying to give people a little sense of security. Even though I am still trying to recover from Sandy and fighting MS, I realize that even when things seem dark for us, someone has it worse.
I know some times are more trying than others. In August of this year I suddenly lost the vision in my right eye and once again was hospitalized. It was a setback. However, I've come to learn that nothing is set in stone with MS. Some days will be better than others and on the bad days you have to just keep fighting.
Now that I am no longer working I am hoping to get more involved with the Society and giving back to others. I want to help educate people about Multiple Sclerosis and give them a lending ear. I was very fortunate to have people reach out to me immediately and it was a huge help. The MS Society has been a huge part of me fighting this disease and I want to give back. We will find a cure someday; until then, we must all fight together, help each other and never give up.