I love it when stories come to me about our people — the people of eastern Kentucky.
I am especially thrilled to write about people I have been a friend with for a lifetime. This is such a story. For the next few weeks, Struttin’ Time will explore the world of a young Letcher County man from Thornton, Will (Hoss) Collins, the son of William and Donna Collins.
William and Donna have been lifelong friends, and I watched Hoss grow into a fine young man who loved hunting and fishing with his dad. He went away to college, got his degree, and returned to find a job teaching in his beloved county. His county wasn’t as good to him. With student enrollment dropping, Hoss had to do what so many of our young people do — leave to find a job. Then — on August 9, 2009 — his world seemed to come to an end.
Hoss was at the University of Kentucky’s Chandler Medical Center trying to figure out why he was having numbness in his body, dizziness, and changing vision. After several tests, Hoss got the life-shattering news that he had Multiple Sclerosis.
In 2009, there were medications for treating MS available, but none were promising for an active person like Hoss, who had always been athletic — hunting, fishing, and hiking in the woods. The fears for his future were endless.
At the beginning of his treatment, Hoss took a shot each day to slow the progression, but it did little to help. Over time, his legs became weaker and his balance diminished to the point he needed to use a cane to get around.
After a four years, Hoss was confined to a wheelchair, his hunting and golfing outings just a recent memory. But he could still fish with his dad, and that brought brightness into a dark, sicknessfilled life. We will stay with Hoss’s story for the next few weeks as we give our Struttin’ Time readers a look into the life of one of ours who never gave up.