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Former UM Softball Player’s Son Battles Rare Form of Juvenile Arthritis

By Ashton Logan
Hottytoddy.com intern
ablogan@go.olemiss.edu

On his best day, Collier Province likes to go to the park. When his eyes meet the swingset, all his and his parents’ worries about his health dissipate as he spends the next hour playfully swinging.

Collier enjoys his first time at the fair riding the carousel. Photo provided.

Collier, a 3-year-old from Pearl, is a bright, happy child with a smile that illuminates any room he walks into. His charismatic personality—and love for any and all things Mickey Mouse—reminds us that he is not defined by his diagnosis of a rare form of arthritis called Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis that affects not only his limbs and joints but also his internal organs.

Laina Province, Collier’s mother and former UM softball player said Collier is a very happy, spirited child.

“He sees the best in everything,” she said. 

According to Laina, Collier has been sick since he was born. He suffers from developmental delays, strabismus—also known as crossed eyes—and is non-verbal.

“He didn’t really get sick until about a year ago. He was admitted to the hospital for about a month where doctors could not figure out what was wrong with him,” Laina said. “He was running a 105 fever every day and he couldn’t walk. He was just in a lot of pain and no one knew what was going on.”

Doctors ran every test under the sun and eventually thought that he had a rare form of cancer in his spine, but there were no answers as to why her son was so sick. Puzzled and frustrated, doctors called the rheumatology department at Batson’s Children’s Hospital.

Collier was officially diagnosed with SJIA in December of 2018 and often suffers high fevers and flare ups that usually result in long hospital stays. After speaking with various specialists, doctors and therapists, they all agreed that it would be in Collier’s best interest to provide him a service dog to assist in early detection.

His parents constantly asked doctors what they could do to make Collier’s life better and allow him to live to the fullest. 

“This dog is what we can do for him,” Laina said. 

The dog she’s referring to is a potential German Shepard, who has yet to be named.

Service dogs are trained for a year to a year and a half with one trainer in order to ensure that the dogs are equipped and ready for any situation they might encounter. However, it is an expensive endeavor. The Province family started a GoFundMe page in hopes they will raise enough money to give Collier his future best friend. 

Collier enjoys some screen time after surgery, he is being treated at Batson’s Children’s Hospital. Photo provided.

Since Collier is nonverbal, the service dog will “speak” for Collier, Laina said. The dog will also assist in Collier’s mobility and day-to-day activities that come easily to other children.

“When someone says that this animal will change your son’s life, as parents, my husband and I are determined to get him this dog,” she said. “I will move heaven and earth if it will increase the quality of my child’s life.”

So far the family has raised over $5,000 of the estimated $25,000 goal for the service dog.

“The biggest thing is that even if someone donates $1, that’s $1 closer to our goal,” Laina said. “We’ve had several people reach out and say that they can’t afford to donate and that’s perfectly fine, but they are willing to share it with their community and getting the word out is what matters most.”


 

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