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The Connecticut Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS in Connecticut and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.


Local Author Makes Hope a Habit

November 2, 2011

"Escaping Quicksand" tells the story of Bristol man's life with MS.

BRISTOL, Conn. – Bristol resident David Horan thought his 30-year career in sales was over after the effects of multiple sclerosis forced him to retire in 2007. Little did he know that in a few short years later he’d be selling his own story.

“People would say to me, ‘You have wisdom about the way you fight the disease, why don’t you write a book about it?’” recalled Horan with a laugh. “And now here I am trying to sell the thing.”

david horan
David Horan's book, "Escaping Quicksand," tells Horan's story of living with MS. To order a copy of the book, please

“Escaping Quicksand,” written by Horan over the course of the past four years, is his take on how to live life fully in the face of MS, a potentially debilitating disease. Horan stressed that while his book isn’t a strict “how to,” he hopes it can inspire others living with MS to change their outlook.

“I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but the way I live my life inspired me to write this book,” said Horan, who was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS in 2000. “I have never had any thought of giving up, and if that inspires others it will make it all worth it.”

More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Horan, live with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness and tingling in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, extreme fatigue, loss of mobility and, in more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis.

Horan’s book is themed around the notion that staying active and more importantly, having a positive attitude, will help a person with MS hold onto hope for a cure.

“Through my book I want to encourage others to make hope a habit,” said Horan, who wears a brace on the left side of his knee and uses a cane when he walks. “Everyone goes through struggles whether they are living with a disease or not; if you work hard, you’ll get to achieve what you want to. Never give up.”

Though he says attitude must come from within, Horan knows firsthand that a person living with MS or any chronic illness needs a network of help. Horan goes to the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain every morning at 6 a.m. to exercise his upper body on weight lifting machines. He also seeks support from the Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital and the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. And at home, he has the help of his wife Mary, who is the assistant dean of the Carol A. Ammon school of arts and sciences at Central Connecticut State University.

When David hit a snag in the writing process, he sought the help of Mary Collins, professor of creative writing nonfiction at CCSU and an award-winning author herself. But when Collins was approached, she decided that rather than forward them on to her connections in publishing, she would get involved in the project herself. Her latest novel, “American Idle: A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture,” recounts her story of a bout with immobility and shares similarities with that of living with MS. Collins worked with David to help hone his story, and suggested another voice was needed: his wife’s.

“It was Mary’s idea to bring my wife’s voice into the story and that’s the thing that most people really seem to like about the book,” said David, who graduated from CCSU in 1975. “We’re in this together. It takes a lot of people and a lot of support to live with MS, and I’m grateful to have a great support system.”

mary and david
Mary Horan poses with husband, David, who was diagnosed with MS in 2000. Mary adds the Partner Perspective, which lends "Escaping Quicksand" the endearing tone of a witty, well-told love story, For more information or to purchase a copy of “Escaping Quicksand,” please visit

David’s wife, Mary, has also shown her support by participating annually in Walk MS since 2001. Mary captains the Neighbors and Friends Walk MS fundraising team, which steps out each year in Simsbury and raised more than $4,000 last year. Mary agreed that David’s attitude is what keeps him moving forward and reiterated that David isn’t alone in his fight.

“David has a very positive outlook on life, he doesn’t let the disease get the best of him,” said Mary, who has been married to David for 32 years. “His MS always factors into our decision-making. It’s there all the time. It’s not just David who has MS; we have MS. Participating in the walk each year is the least I can do to show him my support and raise funds to help move research forward toward a cure.”

Living with the disease for the past decade has helped David put things into perspective. He doesn’t take life for granted.

“The world is meant to move and when you can’t move it’s easy to feel left out,” said David, who with Mary has two daughters in college. “That’s what MS does. You have to do everything you can do to make your life as healthy as possible, and hold onto hope that one day there will be a cure.”

The 2012 Walk MS will be Sunday, April 22 at 12 sites across the state. Registration for the 2012 Walk MS opens Nov. 1. For more information or to register, please visit and click the walk button.

For more information or to purchase a copy of “Escaping Quicksand,” please visit For more information on MSand the many ways the Connecticut Chapter helps people in Connecticut that live with the disease, please visit and click the Programs tab on the left side of the home page.


About the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The Connecticut Chapter strives to provide knowledge and assistance to help people with MS and their families maintain the highest possible quality of life. These goals are achieved through vital national and local programs.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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