Eye on KELOLAND: Meet Collins, 2020’s CMN Champion


A person’s medical realities can help explain the challenges they might face, but they don’t define who the person is. And just a little time spent with young Collins Kassin drives this lesson home. The six-year-old enjoys crafts, her favorite color is teal, her favorite food is mac and cheese and her favorite Disney movie is Aladdin. She also has a knack for music. She’s been playing the ukulele for a bit.

“Ukulele, about eight months,” Collins said.

“She’s full of spunk and full of life and has a great time,” mother Katie Kassin said.

Dan Santella: Is there anything else you think I should know about you, to figure out what makes Collins special?
Collins: *points at vest machine*

She’s pointing here at a machine which she uses for vest treatments. 

“There’s a lot of things that she has to do during the day that other kids don’t necessarily have to do,” Katie Kassin said. “When she gets up in the morning, she has her breakfast, but before she ever goes to school or even leaves the house she has to do vest treatments, and she also has to do that before we go to bed as well.” 

Collins was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 12 days old. The vest treatment is a part of her day, each day for two 30 minute segments.

“Her vest treatment basically loosens up the thick and sticky mucus in her lungs, that’s kind of part of the underlying issue with cystic fibrosis is the lungs, there’s a deficiency where the lungs produce a very thick and sticky mucus, and so if you don’t break up that mucus so they can get that expelled out, it can lead to lung infections which leads to scarring, which will ultimately lead to lung failure,” Katie Kassin said.

The pills you see here on this paper towel are what she has to take daily, too.

“Snack in the room at school isn’t just a snack, it’s, we have to run down and see the school nurse to get our enzymes and then come back,” Katie Kassin said.

Katie Kassin teaches in the University of South Dakota’s physician assistant program. She says having a medical background has its benefits and drawbacks when having a little one with these medical challenges.

“For instance, when I got the phone call about the newborn screen being abnormal, I probably knew a lot more about the worrisome parts of cystic fibrosis than a lay person,” Katie Kassin said.

We’ve profiled Collins before. Now in 2020, Collins is this year’s Children’s Miracle Network champion.

“It’s so fun, and CMN is such a incredible organization, and we’re so happy to be a part of it, and then for her to be picked for that, it was just, it was awesome,” Katie Kassin said.

Children’s Miracle Network helped pay for Collins’ vest machine. She does have her challenges, but her family isn’t forgetting her blessings.

“We’re very thankful for the health that she has, and again for all those medical advancements, her lung function at this point is normal,” Katie Kassin said.

Which lets Collins be who she is. You can watch all of our Children’s Miracle Network stories in our upcoming CMN Special that will air on Tuesday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m.

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