Father with MS walks daughter down the aisle using exoskeleton

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Four lives were turned upside down more than 20 years ago when a young father of two was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

However, the disease has not stopped him from participating in everything from family ski trip excursions to trips to the beach. And earlier this month, it didn't stop him from participating in the biggest day yet of his daughter's life.

When Scott Holland was told he had MS, he turned his love of running into a love of biking. When the disease forced him into a wheelchair more than a decade ago, he still found a way to coach his daughter's softball team and continue teaching third grade.

When his daughter got engaged, well, he found a way to make the ceremony even more special.

Holland finished up nearly four months of grueling physical therapy with a piece of technology called an exoskeleton, which allowed him to walk for the first time in more than two decades.

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Scott Holland lives with MS, but that didn't stop him from walking his daughter, Elise, down the aisle on her wedding day.

"You forget how to walk. Now I have to stop and think about it," he said.

And taking the time to think, or perhaps dwell, isn't something Holland has ever been good at. MS did not waiver his determination to take advantage of any opportunity to stay connected with his family.

"The word to describe Scott is absolutely 'tenacious.' So, I knew there was no stopping him because there never is," Holland's wife, Patricia, said.
A year ago when his daughter got engaged, he wasn't going to sit during the big moment.

"At one point we were like, well we can rent power chairs and have the whole bridal party go down in power chairs, like kind of make light of the situation," Elise, Holland's daughter, said.

But through the Good Shepard Rehabilitation Center in Allentown, Scott's insurance approved use of the exoskeleton. The motors near the hips and knee joints allow patients of MS, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries to power through the normal biochemical walking pattern.

"Long before there is ever going to be a cure for diseases like this, technology is going to step in," Holland said.

The family kept it a secret, choosing to make the walk down the aisle a surprise at the wedding. So as Elise took the first steps into a new chapter of her life, her father once again taught her courage and resilience can get you anywhere you chose to go.

"I think he's taught us a lot about adaptability in our life," Elise said.

Holland and his entire family certainly found a way.

Wedding photos courtesy AGPcollective.
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