DENVER - Brian Horan knows about challenges. All three of his sons suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative and severe form of the inherited disorder.
"You start reading about all the negative things about life expectancy and that was probably the hardest thing to deal with," Horan said. "At that point, we just started hoping that our sons were with us long enough to finish high school."
Ryan, Ian, and Aaron Horan did more than that. They are in their 20s now and they all pursued their goals of getting college degrees at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
"Just because I have a disability doesn't mean I can't follow my dreams," 27-year-old Ryan Horan said. "I figure, I should get it and see what career is out there."
Ryan Horan studied broadcast production. Aaron Horan, 23, is taking classes in technical communications. Ian Horan, 25, is majoring in history.
"If you want a good future, a good career, you should go to school, especially if you want to make the big bucks," Ian Horan said.
All three sons have severe needs. Getting to campus and around campus is a challenge in their wheelchairs. So, Brian Horan made the decision to quit his job as an auto mechanic to be an on-campus aide to all his sons.
"It seemed the right thing was for me to do that," Brian Horan said.
The right thing, they say, to get them through school.
"Some things you would think are simple enough are a little bit harder for me and my brothers," Ryan Horan said. "It's pretty cool of him to do that."
Aaron Horan says he needs his dad's help several times a day.
"Help me get my lunch; help get books out of my backpack," Aaron Horan said.
As the winter graduation ceremony approaches, there's a certain excitement for the Horan family.
"Yeah, I can definitely feel it getting closer," Ian Horan said.
They are excited because in the years dad spent helping his sons on campus, he did something else, too.
"I decided I can't just sit there and wait for them," Brian Horan said. "I started taking classes with them."
He studied electrical engineering.
"I know I wouldn't be taking it," Ryan Horan said. "That's too much math for me."
Brian said during the effort to help his family, he accidentally got a degree.
"That fits really well," Brian Horan said. "It was like it just happened."
With his father's help, Ryan Horan actually graduated in 2011. Ian and Aaron Horan are set to graduate in May. Sunday, it was their turn to watch their father cross the stage.
"Not a lot of people can go through electrical engineering like he did," Ian Horan said.
After graduation, Brian Horan plans to stay on campus through the spring to continue helping his sons through their own graduation. After that, he will explore the world of electrical engineering. More importantly, he is proud of his three sons.
"They're doing really well. They're all going to make it. We did something right," Brian Horan said.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)