Dancer With MS Defies the Odds

Was told she would never walk again -- now she's dancing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Allison Bryant
    Starting a small business in this economy will be tough, but Allison Bryant (right) is tougher.

    Since she was 5, all Allison Bryant ever wanted to do was dance. She performed in competitions, earned a fine arts degree and choreographed her life to open a dance studio on Long Island. 

    Then the unthinkable happened.

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    A Long Island woman with MS was told she'd be in a wheelchair the rest of her life. Miraculously she's doing more than just walking. Tom Llamas introduces us to Allison. (Published Thursday, Sep 17, 2009)

    "I started to lose my coordination, and to be honest I thought maybe it was that I wasn't as good as I thought I was," says Bryant.

    Talent wasn't the problem. When she was 24, Allison found out that Multiple Sclerosis was attacking her brain and spinal cord. She was told she was never going to walk again.

    "Not only was I never going to dance again, I was never going to walk again and I was never going to get married," Bryant said. "I wasn't going to have kids. I wasn't going to hold down a job... I was going to be on disability my whole life."

    Bryant spent four years away from dancing while battling the disease. She experimented with various medications, hoping for a miracle. Last year, she started to feel her legs again.  

    "I tried standing one night when no one was looking I called my entire family into the room and I could stand," says Bryant.

    She spent three months in physical therapy at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. Her physical therapist Tom Focarile says he's never seen a patient recover as fast as Allison did.

    He said the medication Novatron could be the reason for her recovery -- but gives even more credit and her positive attitude.

    "By the time she left she was, she's a dancer, she was pirouetting down the halls," says Focarile.

    Bryant still remembers the first dance she was able to complete after therapy.

    "I remember doing the Cha Cha Cha, and my body was moving again and it felt so good. It just made me so happy," says Bryant.

    So now she's back in the studio. She started teaching classes this week, and is offering special-needs children free classes. 

    "I've had so many people help me out that I feel it's my turn to give back," says Bryant,

    Sure, starting a small business in this economy will be tough, but she's tougher.

    The Bryant Dance Studio opened earlier this month, at 330 Nassau Road, Huntington, Long Island. You can find out more about classes by calling 631-834-9359.