By Tom Reardon, November 2019 issue.
How do you define someone who defies traditional
definitions? You get creative, at first, and then you sit back and listen to
her tell her story.
Bryant is one such person. She’s powerful with a capital POWER and if there was
a picture next to the word “Resilient” in Webster’s Dictionary, it would be of
Bryant flexing her well-toned muscles.
yet? Don’t be. Bryant is approachable, positive, and possesses the fully formed
yet still able to grow and learn type of self-awareness that many of us wish we
could have. As the owner of a successful construction company and the
originator of her own non-profit, Make It Count 4 Dani (MIC4D), as well as
being a professional body builder, Bryant also lives every day with Rheumatoid
Arthritis (RA) and through MIC4D helps others who are impacted by RA and
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Recently, this condition also spread to her
lungs, which brings added challenges, and two or three hospital stays each year
your grandmother’s arthritis, friends, as painful as that can be. RA is a
completely different animal.
16 years old, Bryant has spent much of the last 28 years making sure that she
is not defined by her disease but, if anything, emboldened by it. She truly
lives life to the fullest, regularly competing in body building competitions,
even though her left wrist was surgically removed and replaced with an iron
bar. Her thumbs are fused, as well, but this does not stop her from working out
and only pushes her to find ways to work around her condition when she must.
warrior queen for our community, Bryant is compassionate and funnels all her
success into helping others through her non-profit in addition to her work in
the community as an advocate for being healthy and active. She donates a
portion of the funds from each of her construction projects into MIC4D and
while you can donate on her website (https://makeitcount4dani.com),
she has yet to ask anyone to directly help fund her program.
single, ladies, so…hint-hint.
Echo: Tell us about you.
Bryant: Oh heavens, that’s a loaded
You’re from Phoenix, correct?
I am. I was born in Scottsdale, but I was raised in Tulsa,
Oklahoma. I moved back to Phoenix in 1995. I didn’t live my younger years in
Phoenix, but now I’ll never leave because of my health problems. I did leave in
2009. I went to Canada for three years with my wife and son, but that all fell
apart and I ended up moving back to Phoenix in 2012. I went through some major
surgeries and then I started my own company because I decided to be a new
person and live for me. I went after it and it has worked out great.
There are so many ways to go
I do so much. The construction company is the love of my
life and my non-profit is my passion and I’m also a pro-body builder. My body
building is a vehicle for my non-profit when I do motivational speaking. I talk
about obstacles and persevering and how you can’t let the disease beat you.
I’ve known a few people with
Rheumatoid Arthritis and the idea of them being a body builder would be
daunting to say the least.
For sure. If you would have asked me if I was going to be
able to do this, even four years ago, I would have said, “No way,” and here I
am at 44. I have my pro card in one of the natural federations. I’ve had nine
surgeries, six major hand surgeries, I have fake joints in my hands, so I’ve
essentially transformed my life and I really believe it is all about my
I’ve been on my own since I’ve been 16. I’ve navigated my
health problems by myself. I navigated coming out (at 26) by myself, and it
hasn’t been easy. There have been times when I didn’t want to (pauses) live. I
was at my lowest of lows when I lost my wife and child. That was a catalyst for
me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I was either going to come out
of that or I wasn’t. It took me a good year to realize that the only person who
can change situation is me. I just really changed my attitude.
What does being in the Echo Hall
of Fame mean to you?
It is a complete honor. I’m a little bit separated from the gay community. I don’t drink, I’m athletic. You’d think I’d be able to find someone who wants to work out (laughs) but it really means a lot to me. I love who I am. I’m proud to be a lesbian.